Blogs

SB 803 (Beall): Mental health services: Peer Support Specialist Certification – SUPPORT

February 19, 2020
The Honorable Jim Beall
California State Senator
California State Capitol, Room 2082
Sacramento, CA 95814

RE: SB 803 (Beall): Mental health services: peer support specialist certification – SUPPORT

Dear Senator Beall: The California Association of Mental Health Peer Run Organizations (CAMHPRO) supports Senate Bill 806, which would establish a statewide certification program for peer support specialists and would provide the structure needed to maximize the federal match for peer services under Medi-Cal. CAMHPRO is proud to be a co-sponsor of SB 803.

CAMHPRO promotes the work and missions of peer-run organizations devoted to advocacy and empowerment for mental health consumers. CAMHPRO’s mission is to transform communities and the behavioral health care system throughout California to empower, support, and ensure the rights of consumers; eliminate stigma, and advance self-determination for all those affected by mental health issues.

In supporting a Peer Support Specialist Certification Program in California, CAMHPRO joins the formidable array of California organizations, counties and individuals advocating for growth in high quality peer/family support services and peer specialist career development. Through support of SB 803, we look to finally bring peer support specialist certification to California.

Programmatically, peer certification makes sense
Numerous research studies support the efficacy and cost effectiveness of peer specialist services. Peer services, as opposed to traditional services alone, lead to less inpatient services, decreased symptoms, increased coping skills and life satisfaction, reduced overall ongoing need for mental health services, and decreased substance use.

Across California, peers are already providing peer support services. However, there is no statewide scope of practice, standardized curriculum, training standards, supervision standards, or certification protocol. Few counties that provide peer support services require training prior to hire. The benefits of Peer Certification for peer support are obvious.

Peer certification:
  • Defines the service of peer support;
  • Provides a standardized scope of practice, values and ethics, and competencies;
  • Assures that practitioners receive standardized training and demonstrate competency;
  • Ensures that service recipients will receive the same quality of services regardless of where in California they live;
  • Provides a basis for the ability to bill Medi-Cal for services provided; and
  • Allows for portability of Certification between counties.
Peer Certification also makes good fiscal sense, and California is one of only two states in the nation without it.

In 2007, the US Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) sent a guidance letter to all State Medicaid Directors emphasizing, “peer support services are an evidence-based mental health model of care which consists of a qualified peer support provider who assists individuals with their recovery from mental illness and substance use disorders.” CMS encouraged states to establish a state certification process for training, credentialing, supervision and care coordination. (CMS, SMDL #07-011). This enables the use of federal Medicaid (Medi-Cal in California) financial participation with a 50% match. Currently, 48 states, plus the District of Columbia and the US Department of Veteran’s Affairs, have implemented protocols to certify peer specialists, enabling them to leverage Medicaid funds. However, California has not acted and Californians deserve better!

Initially funded by Department of Mental Health and then Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development (OSHPD), California began an in-depth and focused look at peer certification in 2011.Substantial grassroots work has been done toward peer certification since 2012 and substantial government funds have already been invested into developing peer certification in California.

SB 803 makes sense from both a policy and fiscal perspective and will provide more comprehensive assistance to people in need. CAMHPRO is proud to be part of a statewide movement to bring California up to speed with the rest of the nation in recovery and resiliency services through a state protocol for Medi-CAL billing and certification of peer support specialists.

Sincerely,
Sally Zinman
Executive Director
CAMHPRO
sallyzinman@gmail.com

United States Department of Health & Human Services, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, Guidance Letter to State Medicaid Directors, SMDL #07-011, August 15, 2007.

Click to access SMD081507A.pdf

Evidence for Peer Positions (2020) New Policy Positions Document

Visit our Policy Positions Page and view the newest material and evidence for Peer Positions.

Evidence for Peer Positions (2020) This document provides 4 detailed examples of fact-based evidence for Peer Support Specialists and the kind of work that’s available.

    1. Forced treatment is coercive, has poorer results, higher costs and drives some consumers away from the MH system compared to voluntary community-based services.
    2. Peer Support is recognized by the U.S. Center for Medicaid & Medicare Services (CMS) as an evidenced based model of care
    3. Peer Respites show statistically significant improvements in healing, empowerment, and satisfaction. Average psychiatric hospital costs were $1,057 for respite-users compared with $3,187 for non-users
    4. Individual Placement & Supports (IPS) Supported Employment with Peer Specialists Research from around the world, finds that overall IPS is more effective than other vocational rehabilitation services at providing competitive employment.

The Bay Area Warmline goes Statewide

The Bay Area Warm Line goes Statewide
By Leah Harris

In a massive victory for peer-run services and crisis prevention, California Governor Gavin Newsom allocated $10.8 million for three years for the existing San Francisco-based Peer-Run Warm Line to expand beyond Northern California to cover the whole state. Local advocates and State Sen. Scott Weiner and Assembly Budget Committee Chair Phil Ting, both of San Francisco, worked with the governor to get the Warm Line funded in the state budget.

Loneliness and social isolation have a tremendously negative impact on health and can even lead to premature death. The Peer-Run Warm Line helps to create a connection and reduce the human toll of social isolation. Such supports may be especially needed in rural areas where isolation may be more widespread. Warmline director Peter Murphy told Capital Public Radio: “Especially for isolated areas, rural areas, it can be a great service to provide support for people who may not have very good access to mental health services.”

The Warm Line is an important prevention resource, meant to be used before an individual reaches the crisis point. As the Mental Health Association of San Francisco, which houses the warmline call center, explains on its website:

Think of a pot that’s been left unattended and has started to boil over. Things are burning and smoke is filling the room, and we have to act now to prevent the damage from getting worse. Distress left for too long can be like that pot–suddenly boiling over into a crisis.

But it takes time and a lot of heat to get to that boiling point. What if we’d done something sooner, while things were warming up but not yet dangerously hot?

At a press conference last fall, State Sen. Weiner talked about the people the Warm Line was made for: “So many Californians – they may not quite be in crisis, but they are just about in crisis, or at risk of going into crisis. They have some real challenges, and they feel alone, and isolated. They don’t necessarily want to go to the emergency room, or they maybe don’t have the resources to seek out mental health care or counseling, but they need support.”

The San Francisco-based Warm Line provides free, non-emergency support and referrals to California residents via the toll-free phone line at 855-845-7415. Warm Line peer workers can also be reached via instant message. A recent press release from Assemblyman Ting’s office indicated that the Warm Line would ramp up to 24/7 by 2020, and expects about 25,000 calls per year.

For further reading:

California Launches Peer-Run Mental Health ‘Warm’ Line (Capital Public Radio)

PRESS RELEASE: New Peer Certification Bill SB 803 Introduced

SB 803 (Beall) PRESS RELEASE

Principle author Senator Jim Beall,  Principal Co-author Assemblymember Marie Waldron, Co-authors Senator Wiener and Senator Wilk Assembly members Aguiar-Curry, Arambula Aguiar-Curry, Grayson, Ramos and Wicks  CAMHPRO a co sponsor

SB 803 Fact Sheet

SB 803 Peers Press Release January 8 2020

Senator Jim Beall Champions Mental Health Legislation to Certify Peers

Today, long-time mental health champion Senator Jim Beall introduced legislation SB 803 to create state certification for mental health care providers known as Peer Support Specialists.

Last year, Senator Beall’s bipartisan effort, SB 10, made it to the Governor’s desk with unanimous votes, where it was vetoed. Sen. Beall is reintroducing this legislative initiative as an effort to make strategic, cost-effective reforms to California’s mental health programs.

“Statewide certification of Peer Support Specialists will ultimately save the state money while improving mental health outcomes. The Governor and I have the same goals- help people and use our resources wisely. SB 803 will improve our system in an ongoing, sustainable way.”

A peer is a person who draws on lived experience with mental illness and/or substance use disorder and recovery, bolstered by specialized training, to deliver valuable support services in a mental health and/or substance use setting. “It is time that peers are validated as an essential and professional part of the behavioral health workforce” asserts Sally Zinman, Executive Director of California Association of Mental Health Peer Run Organizations (CAMHPRO).

The state is facing a shortage of qualified mental health professionals to ensure all Californians receive care. Peer Support Specialists are a much needed addition to the workforce.

Dr. Jonathan Sherin, Director of the Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health, emphasized that LA County is ready to take action. “LA County looks to expand upon and professionalize its peer support programs in a sustainable manner which will not be possible until we secure statewide certification and a reliable reimbursement mechanism. Leveraging lived experience through peer support is critical to the service transformation we need in California. The state must make the most of every resource available to address our mental health crisis; recognizing and resourcing Peer Support Specialists statewide will be a wise investment.”

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and 48 states have a certification process in place or in development for mental health peer support specialists. The federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services released guidance in 2007 for establishing a certification program for peers to enable the use of federal Medicaid (Medi-Cal in California) financial participation with a 50% match.

Studies show that peers contribute to the ability of people with mental illness and substance abuse to obtain education and employment, contributing to the California economy rather than depending on social safety nets alone.

“Research demonstrates that the utilization of qualified peer support specialists has measurable benefits to clients including reduced hospitalizations, improved functioning, and alleviation of depression and other symptoms. The time has come for California to embrace peer support as an evidence-based model and put in place a certification program that will standardize best practices” stated Maggie Merritt, Executive Director of the Steinberg Institute, a Sacramento-based non-profit mental health public policy institute.

In California, demand for peer services is growing, but there is no statewide scope of practice, training standards, supervision standards, or certification.

 “California has an important opportunity to deliver quality, cost-effective, evidence-based mental health services and add diversity to our mental health workforce by certifying Peer Support Specialists,” said Michelle Doty Cabrera, executive director of the County Behavioral Health Directors Association of California (CBHDA).  “While California faces a severe shortage of mental health professionals needed to serve our diverse communities, the specific services delivered by trained, supervised peers have shown to improve client outcomes and reduce costs at the same time.  But California can only realize these benefits for our mental health clients in Medi-Cal if we join the 48 states that have already recognized the effectiveness of Peer Support Services through certification.” 

SB 803, The Peer Support Specialist Certification Act of 2020 establishes a statewide certification program for peer support specialists and provides the structure needed to maximize the federal match for peer services under Medi-Cal.

The legislation is applauded by a broad and large coalition of supporters, and is sponsored by California Association of Mental Health Peer Run Organizations, County Behavioral Health Directors Association of California, County of Los Angeles Board of Supervisors, and Steinberg Institute.

PRESS RELEASE: New Peer Certification SB 803 Introduced

SB 803 (Beall) PRESS RELEASE

Principle author Senator Jim Beall,  Principal Co-author Assemblymember Marie Waldron, Co-authors Senator Wiener and Senator Wilk Assembly members Aguiar-Curry, Arambula Aguiar-Curry, Grayson, Ramos and Wicks  CAMHPRO a co sponsor

SB 803 Fact Sheet

SB 803 Peers Press Release January 8 2020

Senator Jim Beall Champions Mental Health Legislation to Certify Peers

Today, long-time mental health champion Senator Jim Beall introduced legislation SB 803 to create state certification for mental health care providers known as Peer Support Specialists.

Last year, Senator Beall’s bipartisan effort, SB 10, made it to the Governor’s desk with unanimous votes, where it was vetoed. Sen. Beall is reintroducing this legislative initiative as an effort to make strategic, cost-effective reforms to California’s mental health programs.

“Statewide certification of Peer Support Specialists will ultimately save the state money while improving mental health outcomes. The Governor and I have the same goals- help people and use our resources wisely. SB 803 will improve our system in an ongoing, sustainable way.”

A peer is a person who draws on lived experience with mental illness and/or substance use disorder and recovery, bolstered by specialized training, to deliver valuable support services in a mental health and/or substance use setting. “It is time that peers are validated as an essential and professional part of the behavioral health workforce” asserts Sally Zinman, Executive Director of California Association of Mental Health Peer Run Organizations (CAMHPRO).

The state is facing a shortage of qualified mental health professionals to ensure all Californians receive care. Peer Support Specialists are a much needed addition to the workforce.

Dr. Jonathan Sherin, Director of the Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health, emphasized that LA County is ready to take action. “LA County looks to expand upon and professionalize its peer support programs in a sustainable manner which will not be possible until we secure statewide certification and a reliable reimbursement mechanism. Leveraging lived experience through peer support is critical to the service transformation we need in California. The state must make the most of every resource available to address our mental health crisis; recognizing and resourcing Peer Support Specialists statewide will be a wise investment.”

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and 48 states have a certification process in place or in development for mental health peer support specialists. The federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services released guidance in 2007 for establishing a certification program for peers to enable the use of federal Medicaid (Medi-Cal in California) financial participation with a 50% match.

Studies show that peers contribute to the ability of people with mental illness and substance abuse to obtain education and employment, contributing to the California economy rather than depending on social safety nets alone.

“Research demonstrates that the utilization of qualified peer support specialists has measurable benefits to clients including reduced hospitalizations, improved functioning, and alleviation of depression and other symptoms. The time has come for California to embrace peer support as an evidence-based model and put in place a certification program that will standardize best practices” stated Maggie Merritt, Executive Director of the Steinberg Institute, a Sacramento-based non-profit mental health public policy institute.

In California, demand for peer services is growing, but there is no statewide scope of practice, training standards, supervision standards, or certification.

 “California has an important opportunity to deliver quality, cost-effective, evidence-based mental health services and add diversity to our mental health workforce by certifying Peer Support Specialists,” said Michelle Doty Cabrera, executive director of the County Behavioral Health Directors Association of California (CBHDA).  “While California faces a severe shortage of mental health professionals needed to serve our diverse communities, the specific services delivered by trained, supervised peers have shown to improve client outcomes and reduce costs at the same time.  But California can only realize these benefits for our mental health clients in Medi-Cal if we join the 48 states that have already recognized the effectiveness of Peer Support Services through certification.” 

SB 803, The Peer Support Specialist Certification Act of 2020 establishes a statewide certification program for peer support specialists and provides the structure needed to maximize the federal match for peer services under Medi-Cal.

The legislation is applauded by a broad and large coalition of supporters, and is sponsored by California Association of Mental Health Peer Run Organizations, County Behavioral Health Directors Association of California, County of Los Angeles Board of Supervisors, and Steinberg Institute.

California Warmlines

warm line is an alternative to a crisis line that is run by “peers,”
generally those who have had their own experiences of trauma
that they are willing to speak of and acknowledge

MHA-SF  The Peer-Run Warm Line (1-855-845-7415) is a non-emergency resource for anyone in the Bay Area seeking emotional support. We provide assistance via phone and web chat on a nondiscriminatory basis to anyone in need Or Chat via IM
Hours:  Sunday 7am – 9pm ~ Monday – Friday 7am – 11pm ~ Saturday 7am – 3pm

 

Project Return Peer Support Network Peer-Run Warmline
Los Angeles County Residents
Hours Monday – Friday 5pm-10pm, Saturday 11am-4pm, Sunday Closed
(888) 448-9777 English and by text
(888) 448-4055 Spanish and by text

 

The OC Warmline- NAMI Orange County
(714) 991-6412
Hours: Monday-Friday 9am-3am ~ Saturday & Sunday 10am to 3am
Languages: English, Spanish, Vietnamese and Farsi with Interpreter Services available

 

Consumer to Consumer – The Meeting Place Clubhouse, Inc.
for San Diego residents only
800 920-WARM (9276) and (619) 295-1055
Hours: 7 days a week 4:00 P.M. to 11:00 P.M., except Holidays
Northern Valley Peer Run Talk Line

 

Butte County, California
A confidential non-crisis peer support network. You are not alone, we are here to listen.
855-582-5554
Hours 7days/week 365 days/year 4:30 pm-9:30 pm

 

San Joaquin County BH Services Consumer Support Warm-Line
For local San Joaquin County residents only
(209) 468-8686
Operating 24/7 since July of 2008

 

Warmline Connection (NAMI Sonoma)
866-960-6264
Hours: Mon-Fri 9am – 5pm

 

PDF of information

PAL Peer Cultural Health Equity Action Committee 12/17 1 p.m.

PAL Peer Cultural Health Equity Action Committee

Upcoming GoToMeeting

CAMHPROs Peer Action League (PAL)

CULTURAL HEALTH EQUITY ACTION COMMITTEE
Join us on Tuesday, December 17, 1:00-2:30 PM
AGENDA
Please join our meeting from your computer, tablet or smartphone.
If you have no mic on your computer, you can dial in using your phone: +1 (571) 317-3122, Access Code: 834-475-101
Get the app now and be ready when your first meeting starts
Schedule of Events Dec 2019-Mar 2020 (Rev. 12.5.19)

Audio-Visual Recording Channel

Welcome to the CAMHPRO Audio-Visual Recording Channel

This page will give you the GoToStage link to all webinars put together by CAMHPRO monthly and quarterly series. To access the recordings, you will need to sign in with an email or another social media account. Just follow the simple instructions and you’ll have access to the recordings. These recordings are about an hour in length and some are nearly 2 hours, filled with layers of advocacy work throughout California.

Below is a simple list of  what you can find, but there’s much much more. Enjoy! 

Monthly Peer Webinars Rotation 2nd Thurs. noon (register here)

Quarterly Grow & Sustain Series 

Peer Action League Quarterly Webinars (visit our PAL page)

The ABCs of Advocacy Web Series (visit our ABCs page)

Supporting Client Culture

CAMHPRO Audio-Visual Recording Channel

JOB POSITION AVAILABLE: Cultural Health Equity Coordinator

CAMHPRO is hiring for the following position: Cultural Health Equity Coordinator
Join our team of passionate, fun peers!

POSITION STATUS: Independent Contractor

REPORTS TO: Training Director and Executive Director

COMPENSATION: $20/hour; no benefits

HOURS: 5 hours/week

ESSENTIAL JOB FUNCTIONS, DUTIES AND RESPONSIBILITIES: The Cultural Health Equity Coordinator is primarily responsible for managing activities of CAMHPRO’s Peer Action League (PAL) Cultural Health Equity Committee, as well as assisting with outreach and engagement of diverse peers in PAL and State stakeholder meaningful advisory and decision-making policy activities to ensure a genuine reflection of the State’s demographic composition is achieved.
Please email resume and short cover email to Karin Lettau, klettau7@gmail.com