First Certified Peer Support Specialist Training Held

Three of Mississippi’s Certified Peer Support Specialist (CPSS) Trainers conducted their first Certified Peer Support Specialist Training on June 5-8 in West Point.

The CPSS Training is an intensive 34 hour course followed by a written exam. The CPSS curriculum was developed by Ike Powell and Larry Fricks of the nationally and internationally-recognized Appalachian Consulting Group (ACG). Larry Fricks’ recovery story was published by HarperCollins in the New York Times best-selling book Strong at the Broken Places by Richard M. Cohen and was featured on the Today Show.

The CPSS training was attended by 23 individuals who self-identify as a family member or an individual who received or is currently receiving mental health services. Upon completion of the training, successfully passing the CPSS examinations, and obtaining employment by a DMH certified provider, participates will become Certified as Peer Support Specialists. The CPSS Program provides acknowledgment that the peer has met a set of requirements necessary to provide support to individuals with mental health, substance abuse, intellectual and developmental disabilities, and or family members. The training and certification process prepares CPSSs to promote hope, personal responsibility, empowerment, education, and self-determination in the communities in which they serve

Under the general supervision of a mental health professional, a CPSS may perform a wide range of peer support services. Peer support services include advocacy, education, development of natural supports, and support of work or other meaningful activity of the person’s choosing. Services may also include crisis support, wellness activities, effective utilization of the service delivery systems, service coordination and linkage to other service providers.

Key to the successful implementation of CPSSs in service delivery roles is the understanding of what creates recovery and how to build environments conducive to recovery. This role is not interchangeable with traditional staff that works from the perspective of their training and status as licensed health care providers. Certified Peer Specialists work from the perspective of “having been there.” Through their lived experience with recovery, they lend unique insight into mental illness, substance abuse, and intellectual and developmental disability and what makes recovery possible.

Certified Peer Support Specialist are first degree family members and/or people living in recovery with mental illness, substance abuse, and intellectual and developmental disabilities that provide support to others who can benefit from their lived experiences. Mississippi defines recovery as “a process of change through which individuals improve their health and wellness, live a self-directed life, and strive to reach their full potential.”

CPSS Training participants are preparing for the upcoming CPSS examination and excited about the opportunity to provide peer support to others. Del Pilar Clemente stated, “The CPSS training is a beautiful opportunity to be a part of the solution. Society as we know it will be taken by storm with this new concept.”

After successful completion of the training, the participants will join 17 CPSS certified by the DMH PLACE Review Board.