In 2015, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) led an effort to identify the critical knowledge, skills, and abilities (leading to Core Competencies) needed by anyone who provides peer support services to people with or in recovery from a mental health or substance use condition. This effort resulted in Core Competencies for Peer Workers in Behavioral Health Services, to help communities interested in enhancing peer services in both mental health and substance use services and supports.
As our understanding of peer support grows and the contexts in which peer recovery support services are provided evolve, the Core Competencies must evolve over time. Therefore, updates to these competencies may occur periodically in the future. Core Competencies are intended to apply to all forms of peer support provided to people living with or in recovery from mental health and/or substance use conditions and delivered by or to adults, young adults, family members, and youth. The competencies may also apply to other forms of peer support provided by other roles known as peer specialists, recovery coaches, parent support providers or youth specialists. These are not a complete set of competencies for every context in which peer workers provide services and support. Instead, they can serve as the foundation upon which additional competencies for specific settings that practice peer support and/or for specific groups could be developed in the future.