Expand Peer-to-Peer Support

Project Name:
Expand Lay Providers, Indigenous Healing, and Peer-to-Peer Support

Team Leaders, Members and their Organizational Affiliations:

  • Paula Martin – Groundwork Center for Resilient Communities
  • Heather Muha – Benzie-Leelanau District Health Department
  • Mindy Fernandes – Michigan House Republicans

Additional Partners:

  • Cynthia Hendrix – Cheboygan Youth Center

September 2022 Behavioral Health Summit Materials


April 2022 Behavioral Health Summit Materials

There are not enough providers in the region to meet the sky-rocketing demand. Additionally, there are inadequate insurance reimbursements for lay providers, virtual consultations, home visiting programs, and other non-traditional methods of behavioral health care. There is also a needed middle layer for those not ready or willing to receive counseling and peer to peer support can fill this gap by providing needed resources, education, and connection in and of itself or as a bridge to counseling.

Researched existing peer-to-peer supports and services in the region and developed a survey that was used to gather information related to such services from several organizations.

We’ve been able to meet two times during the course of this project. Our achievements include:

  • Doing a literature review on the evidence and potential of peer educators, peer-to-peer counselors and the best applications.
  • Designing a short interview question survey
  • Conducted the interviews and talked with 2 community orgs currently using peers or lay providers
  • Collected 3 responses:
    • NAMI
    • WIC
    • Eisenberg Family Depression Center
  • Services are for adults, college students, Women, children and some seniors
    • WIC does individual peer to peer support
    • NAMI has group peer programs
    • UM does peer education to reduce stigma, depression and harm reduction
  • Peer support is a viable way to bridge support for low risk populations and those in stable recovery.
  • What the peer program looks like depends on the needs of each organization
  • Peer programs require support, budget attention and close monitoring
  • Peer programs are cost effective and keep clients connected to support.
  • Consider including peer to peer opportunities in strategic plans and org. budgets
  • In youth- peer educators can led harm reduction education messages and programs for mental health, and other health promotion topics (tobacco, stress, sleep, sexual health, and general substance use harm reduction).
  • California has more expansive state level model and should be explored
  • The next Michigan Dept of Health and Human Services peer Michigan Department of Health and Human Services 2022 Peer Support Specialist Certification Training Application is on May 2 – 6, 2022- Applications Due 30 days prior. Training is Online via Zoom https://www.michigan.gov/mdhhs/0,5885,7-339-71550_2941_4871_4877_48561-84396–,00.html
  • Though each peer to peer program has basic similarities (need for development/management, funding, training) every peer to peer group is unique depending on who they serve, where they serve and peers that are providing the support. Therefore creating a “model” for peer to peer programs doesn’t work but learning from best practices of existing groups can save time and improve success.