Policy 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.

Public Policy Principles: (2017) The Board of Directors of the California Association of Mental Health Peer-Run Organizations (CAMHPRO) takes positions concerning legislation and public policy based on the following principles. CAMHPRO endorses a Recovery perspective affirming that health and social engagement are achievable for all people through social inclusion and appropriate services, accommodations and supports as determined, and directed by, such persons.* Public policy recommendations also are based on whether they recognize and advance

Outreach Materials MH Movement: (2017) The Consumer/Survivor/Ex-patient (C/S/X) Movement began approximately in 1970. However, there were former mental patients who had recorded their abusive treatment in hospitals and attempted to change mental health laws and policies prior to this time. Among these was Clifford Beers, a person with lived experience, who wrote A Mind that Found Itself, 1953, an autobiography of his experience in mental hospitals. This book led to the formation of what is now known as Mental Health America, with its multitude of state and local Chapters. However, Clifford Beers did not organize C/S/X s; he turned to professionals to spearhead mental health reform. It is well documented that only the empowered advocacy of those who are most impacted by services and policies can ultimately drive systems transformation.

Outreach Materials Peer Run Respites: (2017) “Peer respites are voluntary, short-term, overnight programs. They provide community-based, trauma informed, and person-centered crisis support and prevention 24 hours a day in homelike settings. Peer respites are staffed and operated by people with lived experience of the mental health system.” i Although people with lived experience (also referred to as mental health consumers) have provided crisis support to each other for decades, funded and formalized peer respite programs have only opened in the United States in the last five to ten years.

Outreach Materials Peer Support Certification: (2017What is Peer Support? Peer Support is a relationship of mutual learning founded on the key principles of hope, equality, respect, personal responsibility and self-determination; the services provided are evidence-based, nontraditional, therapeutic interactions between people who have a shared lived experience of a behavioral health challenges or the shared experience as a parent/family member of a person with a behavioral health challenge.

Outreach Materials Recovery: (2017) The mental health system has changed the expectation for people diagnosed with mental health conditions– from one of chronic illness to one of hope, recovery, resiliency and wellness. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) is the agency within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services that leads public health efforts to advance the behavioral health of the nation. SAMHSA states, “The adoption of recovery by behavioral health systems in recent years has signaled a dramatic shift in the expectation for positive outcomes for individuals who experience mental and/or substance use conditions. Today, when individuals with mental and/or substance use disorders seek help, they are met with the knowledge and belief that anyone can recover and/or manage their conditions successfully. The value of recovery and recovery oriented behavioral health systems is widely accepted by states, communities, health care providers, peers, families, researchers, and advocates including the U.S. Surgeon General, the Institute of Medicine, and others.”

California Peer Specialist Certification  Peer Support is a relationship of mutual learning founded on the key principles of hope, equality, respect, personal responsibility and self-determination and the services provided are evidence-based, nontraditional, therapeutic interactions between people who have a shared lived experience of a behavioral health challenge.

Education on Mental Health Services Act  Championed by consumer, family member and parent or caregivers of children and youth with mental health issues, Proposition 63, the Mental Health Services Act (MHSA) was passed by California voters in November, 2004. The MHSA taxes all California residents’ income that is over $1 million at 1%. This tax money has gone to the MHSA fund to expand and develop multicultural, innovative, integrated services. Services must reflect the cultural, ethnic, and racial diversity of consumers and families served. (MHSA, 2013)

Education on Peer Certification Senator Leno’s SB 614 “Medi-Cal: mental health services: peer, parent, transition-age, and family support specialist certification. (2015-2016)” rose as the stakeholders’ shining light at the end of a long extended tunnel of time and effort. This bill gave hope to consumers and family members throughout the state that California would emerge from the dark ages, compared to the rest of the nation, to finally recognize and codify peer support services as “an evidence-based mental health model of care”1, along with the US Center for Medicaid Services.

Involuntary outpatient commitment (written in 2013), (also called assisted outpatient treatment, AB 1421, “Laura’s Law”) expands criteria for involuntary treatment to pessimistic preemption, unlike California commitment law that is based on current behavior that is dangerous or gravely disabled.