News and Notes for April 12, 2017

In recent years, a conversation about the growing professionalization of peer support, what it might look like, and what it could mean, has been ongoing, both within the peer support community, and among other mental health professionals. Providers’ willingness to invest in peer support as an effective service is growing. Peer specialists have a desire to be viewed as credible, valuable members of mental health service delivery teams, while doing meaningful work that matches their training and values.
Discussion of the credentialing and professional qualification of certified peer specialists reached a new plateau in March, as Mental Health America finally unveiled its long-awaited National Certified Peer Specialist Credential. It requires documented experience, knowledge of six designated “domains of practice,” prior state certification, and a passing score on a final exam. Details about the credential are available at

If this national CPS credential gains enough traction, it will represent a significant advancement in the national mental health system’s acceptance of, and investment in, peer support as an effective means to recovery. Ideally that advancement will come with maintained attention to the integrity of the recovery-based, person-centered values that define peer support.

Beyond developments in national certification, there’s additional news, including several stories on the ever-increasing demand for mental health services on college campuses. For additional mental health news and information, please see below!


Registration Open for Alternatives 2017

Online registration Alternatives 2017: Building Healing Communities Together is now open. Alternatives provides a platform for people with lived experience to come together, learn from each other, and share the power of recovery. This energizing, peer-driven event is a must-attend for the entire mental health recovery community.

The conference is scheduled for August 18-21, in Boston MA. We hope to see you there this year!

Register at

For more information, visit

SAMHSA Voice Awards Nomination

SAMHSA is now accepting nominations for the 2017 Voice Awards. The Voice Awards honor people in recovery and their family members who are champions for improving the lives of people with mental illnesses and addictions, as well as television and film productions that educate the public about behavioral health and showcase that recovery is real and possible.

Nominations are due by April 24. To learn more, and submit a nomination, visit

SAMHSA Resource and Webinar: New Guidelines for Successful Transition From Jail and Prison

Thursday, April 20
2:00 pm

SAMHSA has released a new implementation guide, “Successful Transition of People With Mental or Substance Use Disorders From Jail and Prison.” It provides behavioral health, correctional, and community stakeholders with 10 guidelines to effectively transition people with mental or substance use disorders from institutional correctional settings into the community, as well as examples of local implementation of successful strategies for managing this transition.
To register for the webinar that will discuss this new guide and how to us it, visit

SAMHSA Blog: Meeting the Growing Need for Behavioral Health Services on Campus

In this blog, SAMHSA Center for Mental Health Services Director Paolo del Vecchio notes the way in which demand of campus mental health services is outpacing the availability of support, and talks about steps SAMHSA is taking to address the issue.

New York’s State University System turns to Telecounseling to Improve Access to Mental Health Services

With demand for services growing and resources strained, university systems are looking to new approaches to meet their students’ needs. In New York, counseling by phone is being looked to as one solution.

Many Student Vets Need Mental Health Support to Finish College

While the demand for mental health services is high among all college students, returning veterans who have experienced traumatic stress have unique needs that must be met for them to succeed in higher education.

Penn Dean’s Advisory Board Seeks to bring Mental Health Training to Entire Campus

A new program at the University of Pennsylvania intends to place at least one student trained in  mental health within every campus organization.

NIH Study: Is Social Media Making Us Lonelier?

Social media platforms can provide an easy way for isolated individuals to connect with others and build community. But a new study finds that heavy social media users may actually feel more isolated.

Resource on Peer Respites

Peer respites are an innovative community-based, trauma-informed alternative to hospitalization for people in mental health crisis. This online resource provides information on peer respites, including research and a directory of peer respites in different states throughout the nation.

The Power of “Healing Voices”

In this article from The Mighty, Oryx Cohen shares his experience telling his story through the documentary film Healing Voices, and talks about his hope to see the movie inspire conversations in communities worldwide.