Peer Specialist Service

Wisconsin Peer Specialists

A history of excellence!

In 1996, Wisconsin Governor Tommy Thompson formed the Blue Ribbon Commission on Mental Health.  This body was charged with examining how Wisconsin’s mental health services could be improved.  This Commission recommended that Wisconsin services should focus on the recovery process.  These recommendations underscore the importance of providing Peer Specialist services to consumers.

Wisconsin already recognizes Peer Specialists in the Comprehensive Community Services Rule and is working to incorporate this provider position throughout the service system.

In December 2006, work began to develop and implement a Wisconsin Peer Specialist Certification for mental health. The Peer Specialist Advisory Committee was formed by the Wisconsin Recovery Implementation Task Force (RITF) to develop this program which is a Career Ladders Project funded through a Medicare Infrastructure Grant (MIG). From 2006 through 2009 the Committee, along with agency and State partners developed the Peer Specialist Code of Conduct, Domains and Objectives (Test Blueprint), Core Training Competencies, General Job/Position Description, the Certification Application and Guidelines, and the Wisconsin Peer Specialist Certification Exam. The exam went through a rigorous validation before going live January 13, 2010.

In 2009, the Wisconsin Department of Health Services, Division of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services agreed to hold the certification for Peer Specialists.  This certification states that a person has passed the approved training and certification exam.  Certified Peer Specialists are also required to complete continuing education hours based on the program’s core competencies in order to maintain their certification.  All Certified Peer Specialists agree to adhere to the program Code of Conduct.

The United States Surgeon General also stated that providing recovery services is instrumental to improving mental health outcomes.

The Center for Medicare & Medicaid Service (CMS) states that, “Peer support services are an evidence-based mental health model of care…the experience of peer support providers, as consumers of mental health and substance use services, can be an important component in a State’s delivery of effective treatment.” CMS has reaffirmed its commitment to State flexibility for consumers.