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Recruitment Intervention Strategies

The Role of a Peer Worker [2.2.2.I.f.2]

“Peer specialists bring the essential message of hope that acts as a catalyst for people to begin their journey of recovery.”
Paolo del Vecchio, Director of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration's Center for Mental Health Services
The role of the peer support worker has been defined on the SAMHSA website as “one who offers help, based on shared understanding, respect and mutual empowerment between people in similar situations.” Peer support has been described as “a system of giving and receiving help” based on key principles that include “shared responsibility, and mutual agreement of what is helpful.”1

The International Association of Peer Supporters (iNAPS) website includes National Practice Guidelines for Peer Supporters. These guidelines provide a framework for understanding the roles and functions of peer supporters. The goals of the national practice guidelines include:
  • Identifying guidelines for developing appropriate and meaningful job descriptions;
  • Providing a foundation upon which peer support core competencies can be identified;
  • Creating a basis for peer support ethical guidelines;
  • Creating a foundation for a potential national credential;
  • Facilitating reciprocity policies (recognized in multiple states); and
  • Providing information that could be used to examine peer supporter training curricula.
Job descriptions samples for peer providers working in integrated health are found on the peer providers tab of the SAMHSA-HRSA Center for Integrated Health Solutions (CIHS) Workforce Recruitment and Retention web page.

[1] Mead, S., Hilton, D. & Curtis, L. (2001). Peer support: A theoretical perspective. Psychiatric Rehabilitation Journal, 25(2), 134-141

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