Following emotional testimony from supporters
The Senate Health Committee Wednesday
Unanimously passed SB 10 (Senator Jim Beall)
which would establish a certification process for peer providers of mental health and substance abuse services. Peers are people who draw on experiences with mental illness and/or substance use disorder and recovery, bolstered by specialized training, to deliver valuable support services in a treatment setting.
Witnesses Wednesday included Khatera Tamplen, a peer herself who is consumer empowerment manager at Alameda County Behavioral Health Care Services and chair of the state Mental Health Services Oversight and Accountability Commission, which co-sponsored the bill along with the Steinberg Institute. Also speaking was Keris Jän Myrick, Discipline Chief for Peer Services for the Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health, who was featured in a New York Times article for being a successful executive with a diagnosis of schizoaffective disorder and obsessive-compulsive disorder. Myrick was accompanied by LA County Director of Mental Health Jon Sherin, who said getting a certification process was his top priority.
Across California, peer providers are already used in many settings. However, there is no statewide standard of practice, consistent curriculum, training standards, supervision standards, or certification protocol in California, which now one of only two states (the other is South Dakota) that does not have peer certification. Yet peer support programs have emerged nationwide as an evidence-based practice with proven benefits to both peers and the clients they assist, including reduced hospitalizations, alleviation of depression and enhanced self-advocacy.
A peer support program also creates a career ladder so that consumers and family members working in mental health care have the opportunity to fully contribute, translating their experience into meaningful employment.