According to an article posted on The Painted Brain by Senator Mark Leno, “This bill would require the State Department of Health Care Services to establish, by July 1, 2016, a statewide peer and family support specialist certification program, as a part of the state’s comprehensive mental health delivery system. The bill would include (3) certification categories: adult peer support specialists, family peer support specialists, and parent peer support specialists. The certification program’s components would include, among others, defining responsibilities and practice guidelines, determining curriculum and core competencies, specifying training and continuing education requirements, and establishing a code of ethics and certification revocation processes. To read more…click here.

Other states are supporting the peer specialist movement. According to the Journal Sentinel in Wisconsin, “The peer specialist movement began about 10 years ago. Today there are more than 200 across the state and roughly 85 in Milwaukee County, where they work for the county and various social service agencies. They undergo 40 hours of training and must pass a test to be certified. Peer specialists are not there to simply drive people to appointments, help with laundry or deliver medication. They are trained to be an active participant in a patient’s treatment and recovery team. A big part of their job is to be a role model and show the ways they cope with their illnesses. ‘We’re not a substitute for a case manager or a therapist,’ Hartig said. ‘We’re a supplement.'” To read more from the Journal Sentinel…click here.

Here are some more reasons to support the Bill, there is a need for more mental health health awareness and anti-stigma campaigns in underserved and inapproppriately served communities, and the role of peers and family members in these communities needs to be nurtured and empowered. To address stigma in these communities, others may have the perspective that the employment of community health workers is an alternative; however, there is significant and qualitative distinction between peer specialists and community health workers. We support community health workers and the value they hold within communities, while emphasizing that this bill is focused on peer specialists and the unique purpose they bring to serving people within the mental health system. Other states have successfully established and developed a robust statewide peer certification program.

If you would like to support the Senate Bill 614, join the movement and email Hon. Rob Bonta, Chairman, Assembly Health Committee, CA State Assembly a letter of support.

Hon. Rob Bonta
Chairman, Assembly Health Comittee

Senator Mark Leno
California State Senate