Embedding peer support services into traditional mental health treatment settings is more than just adding a new service option, it is a cultural and philosophical shift, and one that New York State’s Office of Mental Health has embraced.
In November 2022, in an effort to achieve greater outcomes and be better positioned to address critical social determinant of health needs of the population served, OMH submitted a State Plan Amendment to CMS, which was approved, to change clinic services from the clinic authority to the rehab authority under the State Plan. Among the many flexibilities provided with the change, was the opportunity for the newly renamed Mental Health Outpatient Treatment and Rehabilitative Services (MHOTRS) programs to hire and bill for services delivered by Adult Certified Peer Specialists (NYCPS), Youth Peer Advocates (YPA) and Family Peer Advocates (FPA).
To support the inclusion of Peer Support Services across the lifespan within the MHOTRS programs, the Office of Mental Health funded a 2-1/2 year statewide initiative for the creation of the Peer Support Services Technical Assistance Center (PeerTAC).
Jointly led by the NYU McSilver Institute and the Academy of Peer Services at Rutgers University (APS), PeerTAC will provide training, technical assistance, and consultation to New York State mental health practitioners and organizations implementing and utilizing peer support services.
These partners have a decade of experience working throughout all of New York State providing training and technical assistance to agencies and individuals on the delivery of peer support services. McSilver Institute has collaborated with Families Together in New York State and Youth Power to develop the state’s credentialing process for both Youth Peer Advocates(YPA-C) and Family Peer Advocates (FPA-C). Rutgers University has worked with over 70 subject matter experts to develop online training, testing, and tracking programs that prepares adult learners to apply for the New York Peer Specialist Certification. Based on the extensive experience of these partners, Rutgers and NYU are well positioned to develop and deliver an array of offerings on peer support principles, practices, and competencies.
PeerTAC ‘s mission is to improve access to Peer Support Services across the Lifespan. PeerTAC has begun working with MHOTRS clinics who want to start, expand, or improve Peer Support Services within their programs. In these MHOTRS programs, YPA-C, FPA-C, and NYCPS credentialed peers will be working alongside a variety of clinical staff to include social workers, licensed mental health counselors, psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurses, and others. To facilitate an increase in understanding of the non-clinical peer support role within a clinical service setting, PeerTAC has developed and presented content focusing on the core values and benefits of peer delivered services. In order to promote the successful integration of peer services in clinics, it is essential that clinics develop an aptly crafted work culture that supports healthy partnerships among clinical staff, peers, and the those served.
PeerTAC’s Kickoff event was on January 18, 2023 and provided a first look at the types of training and resources the center has planned. You can view the recording of the Kickoff here.
The Kickoff was followed by webinars on the basics of Peer Support Services across the Lifespan, Hiring and Onboarding Peer Support Staff, Creating an Organizational Culture for Success, and Supervision of Peer Support Specialists. Recordings for these sessions are now available to review and inform those in MHOTRS programs who will be developing the services or working alongside the peer support staff.
We hope you find our content engaging and helpful in facilitating conversations about the importance and benefits of Peer Support Services. Employing peers can create safe spaces and more successful environments for those experiencing mental health challenges, as well as improved outcomes on one’s journey to recovery!
To learn more about PeerTAC visit our website: https://peertac.org
To submit questions to PeerTAC staff: https://peertac.org/ask-peertac/