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Support, Sustain & Inform

We network locally, regionally, statewide and nationally; to develop, promote, and support an environment of change in Maine through education, training, and advocacy.

Peer Support

Healthy Transitions Initiative Toolkit

  • Parent Category: Resources
  • Last Updated on Thursday, 04 September 2014 22:56
  • Published on Thursday, 04 September 2014 22:56
  • Written by Lydia Richard

The period of "emerging adulthood," which includes late adolescence and early adulthood, (generally including ages 16 or 17 up through age 25), is a time of life when young people typically experience many changes and challenges. Challenges are exacerbated by the presence of a serious mental health condition. In fact, emerging adulthood is the time of life during which people are most likely to experience a serious mental health condition. Challenges related to having a mental health condition can disrupt a young person’s development during this period of life; however, the services that are available for this population were developed either for children or older adults and have not been modified to match young people’s needs and preferences. It is in this time of life when young people are least likely to access mental health services or remain in services if they do access them. Barriers to accessing services include the fear of stigmatization of their mental health challenge, as well as the perception that the services are not engaging, helpful, or relevant to them. The Healthy Transition Initiative was created to address these barriers and others related to young adults with serious mental health conditions accessing services.

In 2009, the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration (SAMHSA) funded the Healthy Transition Initiative (HTI). This was SAMHSA’s second initiative focused on youth and young adults with mental health disabilities. The first initiative was the Partnership for Youth Transition Initiative which served to develop program models that were adopted and adapted in the HTI grants. The states that were awarded HTI grants were

 Georgia
 Maine
 Maryland
 Missouri
 Oklahoma
 Utah
 Wisconsin

The seven HTI jurisdictions received funding beginning In October of 2009 and ending in September 2014. The Goals of the HTI are to:

 Identify and implement evidence based models for service delivery to young adults with serious mental health challenges in at least one local implementation community

 Bring together relevant stakeholders at both community and state levels

 Identify system level issues and set in place action plans to affect change to state and local policies

 Involve young adults and their families in the process.

Each HTI jurisdiction met these goals with a unique combination of state and local activity. The seven states implemented HTI services in 10 implementation communities; four states implemented in one local community while three states implemented in two local communities. During the fifth year of funding, Principal Investigators and Program Directors from the HTI jurisdictions advocated for the development of a Tool Kit as a way of passing on the lessons they had learned about effectively supporting young adults. With support from the Child, Adolescent and Family Branch, SAMHSA and the National Technical Assistance Center for Children’s Mental Health, Georgetown University, Pathways RTC received resources to facilitate the compilation of the items for the Tool Kit and to develop several Issue Briefs, focused on the impact of HTI at state and local levels.

This Tool Kit was developed to display documents developed and/or used by HTI jurisdictions at both the state and community level. Each document was nominated because an HTI staff had found it useful in the process of developing services for youth and young adults. The Tool Kit provides an organized, central location for others to easily find these documents in the future. As an adaptable and versatile educational resource, this serves as a starting place for those states and communities who are beginning to plan for ways of better meeting the needs of young adults with mental health challenges.




New Code Expected to Boost Peer Support Profession

  • Parent Category: Resources
  • Last Updated on Sunday, 24 August 2014 19:20
  • Published on Sunday, 24 August 2014 19:20
  • Written by Lydia Richard

A major step was recently taken to incorporate peer specialists as integral parts of the healthcare industry.

The National Uniform Coding Committee (NUCC) approved coding of peer specialist services on March 18. This coding, specific to peer specialists, will enable state and federal agencies to bill peer support services more effectively and facilitate better tracking of such services. The NUCC is made up of major health care providers and insurance industry members including the Center for Medicare and Medicaid services, and other public health organizations.

The coding is especially important for the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, the largest single employer of peer specialists, as it will allow that department to more efficiently bill and track peer specialists’ work. There are other benefits, according to Dan O’Brien- Mazza, Director of Peer Support Services for the department.

"This classification puts peer specialists on par with other mental health professionals," he says. "It is a measure of respect and recognition of the important and valuable services peer specialists provide. It better allows peer specialists to work alongside other mental health professionals. No one can say peer specialist is not a legitimate health care profession."

Approval of the classification is an indicator of a maturing profession delivering on outcomes of strength-based recovery and whole health, according to Larry Fricks, Director of the Appalachian Consulting Group.

"When a new workforce emerges (peer specialists) it moves forward in increments. We are on a critical path," Fricks says. "With this classification and key milestones like the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services proclaiming peer support services as evidence-based in 2007 and providing states with billing guidelines, our role is increasingly valued. We may still have challenges, but this is another significant step in the right direction."

O’Brien-Mazza says the classification is likely to have additional importance as the Department of Veterans Affairs strives to expand peer specialists into larger, whole health roles.

The NUCC defines the classification as follows: Peer Specialists—Individuals certified to perform peer support services through a training process defined by a government agency such as the Department of Veterans Affairs, or a state mental health department/certification/licensing authority.

The new code will be included in a July 1 release of changes to the code set and will be effective Oct. 1, 2014. Although many states have other codes to use to bill Medicaid, this new classification is likely to be adopted by states in order to simplify billing and keep more accurately account for peer support activities and services.

"Dan deserves much credit for this accomplishment," says Steve Harrington, Executive Director of the International Association of Peer Supporters. "It was his leadership that resulted in this important step. This is yet another way the Department of Veterans Affairs has been leading the development of peer support in the U.S."



The Way Forward

  • Parent Category: Resources
  • Last Updated on Wednesday, 16 July 2014 14:07
  • Published on Wednesday, 16 July 2014 14:07
  • Written by Lydia Richard
The Action Alliance Suicide Attempt Survivors Task Force has released a new resource to give voice to suicide attempt survivors. "For too long the voice of millions of suicide attempt survivors, like myself, and the value of our experience has been discounted. Now we have come together to provide what could be the most meaningful and impactful contributors to reducing suicide - lived experience - and a new way forward," said Eduardo Vega, MA, SASTF Co-Lead and Executive Director, Mental Health Association of San Francisco. The Way Forward summarizes eight core values and offers a lens through which suicide prevention can be envisioned to embrace safety and bring hope and meaning to those in suicidal despair.

Read the press release about the release of this resource:

Read The Way Forward:  





Invitation to Submit Personal Stories

  • Parent Category: Resources
  • Last Updated on Monday, 12 November 2012 14:31
  • Published on Friday, 10 June 2011 16:09
  • Written by Lydia Richard

Personal stories are a powerful way to share information, influence others, and advance recovery-oriented practice. The Recovery To Practice team would like to hear from military family members about your recovery-oriented experiences.

We're also interested in receiving your personal stories about how healthcare reform has affected your recovery journey.

We will add your stories to our library of resources that will soon become available to our ListServ subscribers.

To submit personal stories or other recovery resources, please contact
Stephanie Bernstein, MSW, at 1.877.584.8535,
or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Consumers with Lived Experience Training

  • Parent Category: Resources
  • Last Updated on Monday, 12 November 2012 14:31
  • Published on Monday, 09 May 2011 09:38
  • Written by Lydia Richard

This training, entitled Consumers with Lived Experience: Critical Partners in the Mental Health System of Care, explores the trends, approaches, and opportunities in workforce development involving hiring consumers of mental health services as Peer Specialists or Consumer Supporters. While consumers in recovery can experience difficulty in finding employment, their unique authentic experience makes them a largely untapped asset that providers of mental health services can, and should, take advantage of.

This training is an introductory discussion about common terminology, employment law, and other factors that are critical in setting the stage for a successful consumer representative employment program. It is formatted as a narrated slide show that can be paused, re-viewed or viewed in multiple sittings any time, 24/7. Please check it out here! 

The CAFÉ TA Center is a SAMHSA funded national technical assistance center for substance abuse and mental health. Visit us online at!

Funded In Part By:

Wrendy Hayne Mental Health Fund-Maine Community Foundation


To apply for membership, please complete this form and mail or fax it back to us.
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icon Application (PDF)

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Application to the Board of Directors BOD Application (PDF)

Pillars of Peer Support Presentation

We have made available to you the Pillars of Peer Support Presentation from our 2010 Annual Meeting.
Click here for PowerPoint Presentation
Click here for free PowerPoint Viewer