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Mental Health:Leading Practices for State Programs to Certify Peer Support Specialists

According to officials from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) within the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), shortages in the behavioral health workforce are a key reason that individuals with mental illnesses do not receive needed treatment. In recent years, there has been an increased focus on using peer support specialists—individuals who use their own experience recovering from mental illness to support others—to help address these shortages. Program officials GAO interviewed in selected states generally cited six leading practices for certifying that peer support specialists have a basic set of competencies and have demonstrated the ability to support others.

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