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Certified Peer Specialists

Certified peer specialists are individuals who have had personal experience of mental illness and are trained to be direct service mental health staff. Minnesota has been offering this service since 2009.

Certified peer specialists offer support and hope to individuals with mental illness by sharing their story and helping them to discover their strengths. Certified peer specialists assist the people they serve by helping break down barriers to community resources and provide encouragement for involvement in community activities that support their goals and interests.

How a Certified Peer Specialist can help

Adding peer services can be transformational to an agency. With support from leadership, the addition of peers to an agency can change the way staff talk to each other and to the people they serve. Peers successfully engage individuals who may be reluctant to receive services. Adding peers to a program’s workforce can free up other mental health staff by running groups, reinforcing skills, and helping the individuals develop their treatment plans.

Certified peer specialists are eligible to provide services as a paid team member with:
  • Adult Rehabilitative Mental Health Services;
  • Assertive Community Treatment;
  • Crisis Residential Services;
  • Intensive Residential Treatment Services; and
  • Mental Health Crisis Services.
In some cases, certified peer specialists are employed in non-direct service roles such as staffing drop in centers and peer support warmline operators. Peers are also eligible to be employed as case manager associates.


How a person becomes a Certified Peer Specialist

In Minnesota, Northland Counseling Center coordinates the application process, trainings and maintain a website for individuals who are interested in learning more about peer services.

Peer Specialists must complete and be prepared to provide documentation to DHS of 30 hours of continuing education in areas of mental health recovery, mental health rehabilitative services and peer support.

For more information, visit Peers Link to Hope.


Mental Health at DHS

The Department of Human Services (DHS) is dedicated to supporting adults, children and youth with a mental illness in their personal journey toward recovery, as well as preventing mental illness whenever possible.

People with mental illness have the same rights as anyone. DHS is committed to making sure individual choice is respected and that people with mental illness are able to live, learn, work, and enjoy life in their community to the best of their ability.

DHS oversees a number of publicly funded programs offering community-based mental health services, creating a continuum of services designed to meet the needs of individuals.

Arrow pointing right with adults on top with list of services and children's on bottom of arrow with list of services. Adult services contain outpatient therapy, ARMHS, Mobile Crisis, Day Treatment / Partial Hospitalization, IRTS / Residential Crisis, ACT, Hospitals, and State Hospitals. Children's services contain Outpatient Therapy, CTSS, Mobile Crisis, Day Treatment / Partial Hospitalization, Intensive Treatment Foster Care, Youth ACT, Residential Treatment, PRTF, and Hospitals.

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