Peer support specialists are well positioned to build rapport, cultivate trust, and engage with people in crisis. They may support people before mental health challenges become crises through education and support via warm lines or peer support programs in schools.
Peer support specialists may work in crisis centers with mobile crisis teams. They also provide nonclinical support to people receiving inpatient or outpatient services and help support people transition across levels of care.
Peer support specialists support recovery planning, such as helping people create Wellness Recovery Action Plans (WRAP) that focus on crisis prevention and management. Additionally, peer support specialists serve as role models and link people in or seeking recovery with community resources.
Peer support specialists provide vital support to people before, during, and after a crisis. The crisis continuum of care can be defined as a comprehensive array of services that seeks to provide effective care to help people avoid emergency departments, justice involvement, and traumatizing experiences. These are typical elements found along the continuum of care:
- Crisis center or crisis hub
- Call centers and crisis lines
- Deployed crisis-trained police and first responders
- Medical triage and screening
- Mobile crisis
- Behavioral health urgent care
- Intensive community-based continuing crisis intervention
- 23-hour evaluation and extended observation
- Residential crisis program continuum
- Transportation and transport
- Crisis stabilization units
- Warm lines
- Peer respites
While the research is still growing, there is evidence for the effectiveness of peer-run warm lines and peer respite programs:
- Decreased hospitalizations
- Decreased use of emergency services and increased choices for recovery
- Reduced sense of isolation among callers of a peer-run warm line