The Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services (TDMHSAS) is passing a milestone in the journey of peer support. Tennessee now has more than 1,000 people with lived experience of mental health and/or substance use challenges who are trained and currently certified to use their past to help others on the road to recovery.
The education offered through the Certified Peer Recovery Specialist (CPRS) program is an intensive, 40-hour training followed by documented peer support hours which must be provided under supervision. Candidates for the training must have at least two years in recovery and go through a rigorous screening process.
Tennessee’s Certified Peer Recovery Specialist program began in 2007 as part of a national movement to create a standardized set of credentials to empower people with lived experience to obtain meaningful employment providing peer support to others. In the last decade, Tennessee’s peer support certifications have grown to include unique programs for family members of children with behavioral health needs and for young adults.
As of December 1, 2022, Tennessee has 1,018 active Certified Peer Recovery Specialists. In the lifetime of the program, 2,005 Tennesseans have earned their CPRS. Additionally, Tennessee has 85 CFSS and eleven CYAPSS who are current in their certification.
“The men and women who step up and earn this certification truly are the heart and soul of so many amazing programs that are on the cutting edge of connecting people with the help they need,” said TDMHSAS Commissioner Marie Williams, LCSW. “This certification is an incredible pathway to career development, and this growing workforce of peers is paving new roads to recovery for countless Tennesseans.”
In response to ever-increasing demand for peer support training this year, TDMHSAS and its partners greatly expanded access to the CPRS training and eliminated any waiting list. There are now four full-time CPRS trainers and two to three trainings every month. In just the last year, more than 600 peers have been trained.
“From mental health and substance use treatment providers to crisis call centers, recovery courts, psychiatric hospitals, emergency departments, managed care organizations, and correctional settings, peers have become embedded and essential in so many sectors,” said Lisa Ragan, TDMHSAS Director of Consumer Affairs and Peer Recovery Services. “The demand for this training is proof of the momentum of this movement and growing realization among employers and payors that peers add real value.”
Learn more about peer support in Tennessee and watch video profiles of certified peers on our website at this link: TN.gov/behavioral-health/peers <https://tn.gov/behavioral-health/peers>