Peer support specialists are people who have been successful in achieving recovery goals and who are trained to support others with shared lived experience. Peer support specialists engage in a wide range of activities, including:

Trent Gay, a career coach with Central City Concern, speaks up at a peer stakeholder meeting in October 2019

  • Advocating for people in recovery
  • Sharing resources and developing new skills
  • Building community and relationships
  • Inspiring hope and setting goals

The role of a peer support specialist complements, but does not replace, the roles of clinicians, case managers and other members of a treatment team. 

Emerging research shows peer support is effective for supporting recovery from behavioral health conditions. Benefits of peer support include reduced hospital admissions, increased self-esteem and confidence, increased social support and social functioning, increased empathy and acceptance, increased sense of hope and inspiration, increased engagement in self-care, and wellness. 

From its inception, the Behavioral Health Resource Center project has been led by people who have lived experience in the mental health system. Starting in 2019, participants in peer stakeholder meetings have provided input on which services should be offered, how they should be delivered and how the facility itself can be more trauma-informed in its design. As part of this innovative model, peers helped identify other key stakeholders, including first responders, behavioral health treatment providers, culturally specific providers and downtown businesses and neighbors. A series of meetings were held to develop relationships and new ways of collaborating on system improvements to better assure that services are culturally responsive and trauma-informed.  

The Day Center will be staffed exclusively by peers and operated by the Mental Health and Addition Association of Oregon, a peer-run, nonprofit organization that promotes self-directed recovery and wellness for all by offering recovery peer services.