The 2023 National Association of Peer Supporters Conference theme is “Pathways” and will be held in Norfolk, Virginia, October 25 – 26, 2023. This in-person conference will feature networking, breakout sessions, and more!
The National Association of Peer Supporters (N.A.P.S.) recognizes bodily and reproductive autonomy as fundamental rights that all human beings deserve and which deserve to be protected. This can include making decisions about which treatments to participate in, which medications to take, and the right to a safe and legal abortion. The Supreme Court’s recent decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, a byproduct of which is that abortion is now illegal or soon will be in 16 states, is in opposition to some of the core values behind peer support. Notably, these include autonomy and self-determination, voice, choice, and control, and determining for oneself the life one would like to lead.
Peer support as a service originates from a long history of experiencing harm and oppression at the hands of systems. This has included forced treatment and medication, seclusion and restraint, and forced sterilization. Psychiatric survivors and ex-patient movements, among others, played large roles in advocating for the rights of people navigating behavioral healthcare systems to have control over their own bodies and many peer roles come from these movements as well.
We are still not in a place where every person has the right to make decisions about their own body. N.A.P.S. recognizes that those most impacted by abortion restriction, and those most likely to die from not having access to care, are people from historically marginalized communities; in particular Black and Indigenous women. As long as people who can become pregnant (however they identify) lack their basic human rights, N.A.P.S. will continue to stand alongside them for the restoration of those rights. We strongly encourage all peer supporters to do the same.
For additional information about abortion laws in your state please visit these links:
The National Association of Peer Supporters, representing the nation’s Peer Support Specialists, applauds President Biden and his Administration for bringing attention and solutions to the mental health of our nation.
“We must dramatically expand the supply, diversity, and cultural competency of our mental health and substance use disorder workforce – from psychiatrists to psychologists, peers to paraprofessionals – and increase both opportunity and incentive for them to practice in areas of highest need. Our crisis response infrastructure must also be strengthened to ensure that those facing acute behavioral health challenges can be seamlessly connected to necessary services. ”
Since 2004, the National Association of Peer Supporters has been on a mission to grow the peer support profession by promoting the inclusion of peer specialists throughout healthcare and other community systems. In this growth, we hold true to the intent of why peer support exists, not just to help people transform their lives but also to transform healthcare and other community systems. Through feedback from peer specialists across the country, we have gained consensus on a standard occupational classification definition of Peer Support Specialists as well as published National Practice Guidelines for Peer Support Specialiststhat have been recognized by the World Health Organization. We fully understand the systemic and societal issues associated with growing the peer support workforce in a way that upholds the values of peer support.
Peer support specialists are experts at looking beyond symptom management and stabilization to address the whole person. Our lived and living experiences of overcoming mental health and substance use conditions or supporting loved ones through their journey to health and wellness give us insider knowledge of the barriers and resources necessary for recovery. This includes recovery-oriented and trauma-informed treatment, access to non-clinical recovery supports and services, and welcoming communities that allow for full participation and are free of discrimination.
Presidential Administrations have a played critical role in elevating the value that people with lived and living experiences of mental health and substance conditions and their families have in the design, delivery, and evaluation of services. We celebrate the inclusion of the Peer Support Workforce in the Administration’s strategy. We stand ready to partner with the Biden administration on improving the health of all Americans including through policy related to the peer support profession.
National Association of Peer Supporters Stands in Support of Gender Affirming Care for Queer, Trans, and Gender Non-Conforming and Non-Binary Youth
In light of the recent letters from the Governor and Attorney General of Texas which suggest that providing gender-affirming health care to transgender youth can constitute child abuse we, the National Association of Peer Supporters, stand in support of Queer, Transgender, and Gender Non-Conforming / Non-Binary youth, families, and Peer Support Specialists across the country.
N.A.P.S. is proud to support, honor, and validate the lived experiences and gender identity of each member of our organization and person we serve.
As Peer Support Specialists we have an obligation to affirm and support the ability of each person to create a meaningful life for themselves, including access to gender-affirming care without threat of investigation or harm. We also have an obligation to stand opposed to harmful systems and requirements, such as those in the letters, when providing support.*
N.A.P.S. encourages its members and anyone working or volunteering in the Peer Profession to continue to educate themselves regarding supporting Queer, Transgender, and Gender Non-Conforming / Non-Binary youth, as well as any legislative action that may negatively impact marginalized communities. This education includes understanding mandatory reporting rules in your respective state and the impact of non-binding legal opinions.**
With a history largely rooted in radical systemic transformation and social justice movements, Peer Support Specialists are uniquely positioned to advocate and stand alongside those experiencing systemic harm.
1. Wolf, J. (2018). National trends in peer specialist certification. Psychiatric Services 69 (10), 1049. This number does not include thousands of non-certified peer support workers as well as those employed in forensic, youth, parent partners, substance use and other behavioral, primary and integrated health settings as well as serving specific population groups.
2. University of Michigan Behavioral Health Workforce Research Center. (2019). National analysis of peer support providers: practice settings, requirements, roles, and reimbursement. Ann Arbor: Michigan, UMSPH.