We believe in the transformative power of peer support.

 

Peer support is emotional and practical support between two people who share a common experience, such as a mental health challenge or illness. A Peer Supporter has lived through that similar experience, and is trained to support others.

Peer Supporters listen, provide emotional support, and most importantly, inspire hope. 

About Peer Support Canada

We believe in the transformative power of peer support.

Peer support is emotional and practical support between two people who share a common experience, such as a mental health challenge or illness. A Peer Supporter has lived through that similar experience, and is trained to support others.

Peer Support Canada connects peer supporters and organizations, helping share information and building capacity for peer support.

Peer Support Canada also offers certification for Peer Supporters, Family Peer Supporters, and for Peer Support Mentors. Peer Support Certification is a confirmation of one’s knowledge, skills, and experience as a peer supporter. Certification verifies one’s alignment with the nationally endorsed Standard of Practice, and is recognized across Canada.

The Standards of Practice for mental health peer supporters were developed in consultation with peer supporters from across the country and endorsed by peer leaders representing interests nationwide. The national Standards of Practice consist of the knowledge, competencies, experience, and code of conduct requirements to effectively provide peer support services with due care and skill in a variety of settings.

CMHA and Peer Support Canada redraw partnership.

Peer Support Canada and the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) joined together in early 2018 in an effort to expand peer support in this country. Both CMHA and Peer Support Canada value and believe in the power of community-based mental health services that include increased access to peer support where people live, work and play.

Especially considering the negative mental health impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, people across Canada are struggling to get the mental health help they require. Almost 9 in 10 (87 per cent) of Canadians tell us they don’t have access to the mental health support they need, and only 1 in 3 (35 per cent) agree the current public mental health system is meeting demand.

Even though COVID-19 vaccinations are ramping up, we know that the mental health effects of the pandemic, including anxiety, depression, suicidal thoughts, substance use, will last long after we flatten the curve. Peer support is an effective, evidence-based and compassionate mode of providing rapid, accessible and culturally sensitive support for people who are struggling.

“The time to invest in peer support as an integral part of the mental health system is now,” says Debbie Wiebe, Member, Peer Support Canada Certification Committee. “The silver lining of the pandemic is that it’s forced everyone to think differently about how we do things. The Peer Support Canada Mentors and Certification Committee see an urgent opportunity to strengthen the practices and presence of peer support to meet the increased demand.”

In pursuit of this rapid expansion, Peer Support Canada and CMHA have agreed to redraw their partnership in two years to re-establish Peer Support Canada as an independent peer-driven organization with its own autonomy, governance structure and staffing. Until that time, CMHA will continue to provide organizational support in the form of administrative, financial and marketing communications services as a strategic partner.

CMHA is enthusiastic about the future of peer support in Canada. We look forward to supporting and enabling Peer Support Canada to grow into an independent leader that champions the recognition, growth and accessibility of peer support across Canada,” says Margaret Eaton, National CEO, CMHA.

Peer Support Canada and CMHA are both committed to maintaining the consistency and quality of the ongoing Certification of Peer Supporters and Peer Support Mentors throughout the transition. The organizations will work together to maintain the integrity of this high-quality certification process while they undergo a rigorous strategic planning exercise to map out Peer Support Canada’s path forward. A new manager of peer support will be hired later this month to work with key stakeholders to ensure a seamless transition.

Peer Support Canada and CMHA look forward to planning a new future together that will champion the power of peer support and help meet the urgent mental health needs of Canadians.

If you have any questions, please contact us at info@peersupportcanada.ca.

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Our History

In 2010, the Mental Health Commission of Canada and its Workforce Advisory Committee (WAC) identified an opportunity to transform the mental health system in Canada through the integration and promotion of peer support. Peer Support (Accreditation and Certification) Canada was created into carry on the work started by the Mental Health Commission of Canada, promoting the growth, recognition, and accessibility of peer support.

The organization developed a robust certification process for Peer Supporters and Family Peer Supporters, grounded in the Standards of Practice.

Certification

We gratefully acknowledge the Peer Support Canada Board of Directors for their vision, leadership, and bold thinking in both founding the organization, and in orchestrating the integration with CMHA. It is their commitment to peer support that will allow for the acceleration of peer support across Canada.

Vision and Mission

Vision

Peer support is recognized and highly valued as an integrated component of the mental health system, accessible to all individuals and family members affected by mental health challenges and illness.

Mission

At Peer Support Canada, our mission is to promote the recognition, growth, and accessibility of peer support. Our mission will be achieved by using the Peer Support Canada Standards of Practice as the basis to:

o Promote mental health peer support through education and awareness;
o Certify qualified peer supporters;
o Accredit qualified peer support training programs;
o And by using recognized research methodologies to expand the evidence base related to peer support and to disseminate the findings.

Certification Committee

This team of experienced peer supporters assess the knowledge of Certification applicants, make recommendations for Certification, and provide expert guidance.

Angela Betts
Debbie Sesula
Debbie Wiebe
Deborrah Sherman
Fiona Wilson

Kristine Quaid
Pamela Spurvey
Tom Kelly
Tracey Mitchell

Peer Support Canada Mentors

Our certified peer support mentors are matched with certification applicants, providing guidance and feedback throughout the practicum.

Allison Dunning
Andy Cox
Debbie Sesula
Debbie Wiebe
Deborrah Sherman
Fiona Wilson
Karen Henze

Keely Phillips
Kim Dixon
Kristine Quaid
Pamela Spurvey
Tom Kelly
Tracey Mitchell

Candidates:
Angela Betts
Gail Taylor
Heather Megchelsen

Peer Support is a core contributor to the recovery process.

—Mental Health Commission of Canada

Peer Support Resources

Peer Support Competencies  

The 11 core competencies required for the providion of peer support. These competencies are assessed as part of the Certification process.

Peer Support Certification Handbook  

This handbook outlines the essential experience, knowledge, skills, and competencies that make up the National Standard of Practice, and the Peer Support Certification process.

Information for Peer Support Certification Practicum Sites  

The 3rd phase of the Certification process is the practicum. This guide gives an overview of the requirements for Practicum sites.

Guidelines for the Practice and Training of Peer Support (MHCC)  

Developed by peer supporters across Canada, these guidelines serve as the basis for Peer Support Certification. This document outlines the core values, principles of practice, and skills and acquired abilities for peer supporters. 

Peer Support Code of Conduct  

The principles that form the foundation of the practice of peer support.

Peer Support Core Values  

The ideals and ethics grounding peer support work.

Making the Case for Peer Support (MHCC)  

This seminal 2010 report highlights the status of peer support in Canada, and made the case for investment in clinical and community settings. Making the Case for Peer Support recommended the development of national guidelines for the funding and development of peer support.

The Peer Support Training Knowledge Matrix

The Peer Support Training Knowledge Matrix is currently being updated and is not available for purchase at this time. If you are interested in making a purchase, please email us at info@peersupportcanada.ca and we would be happy to reach out once it becomes available.

Peer Support Certification

Peer Support Canada offers certification for Peer Supporters, Family Peer Supporters, and for Peer Support Mentors. Peer Support Certification is a confirmation of one’s knowledge, skills, and experience as a peer supporter. Certification verifies one’s alignment with the nationally endorsed Standard of Practice, and is recognized across Canada.

The Standards of Practice for mental health peer supporters were developed in consultation with peer supporters from across the country and endorsed by peer leaders representing interests nationwide. The national Standards of Practice consist of the knowledge, competencies, experience, and code of conduct requirements to effectively provide peer support services with due care and skill in a variety of settings.

PHASE
one

  • Application for Certification
    as a Peer Supporter
  • Assessment of Acquired Experience
  • Assessment of essential
    peer support competencies
$ 90

PHASE
two

  • Assessment of knowledge
    through a written exam
  • Areas of strength and
    areas for development identified
$ 440

PHASE
three

  • Completion of a practicum supervised by a Certified Peer Support Mentor
  • Practicums are tailored for each applicant and can range from 5-20 weeks.
  • Whenever possible, the 10 practicum hours each week are fulfilled at existing workplaces
  • Final assessment of competencies Review by Certification Committee
$ 750

Information on
Peer Support Certification

Application for Peer Support
Certification

Family Peer Support Certification
Application

Application for Peer Support Mentor
Certification

Frequently Asked Questions:

1. What is certification?

Certification is a verification of one’s alignment with the nationally endorsed Standards of Practice for Peer Support and is recognized across Canada. The Standards of Practice outline the experience, competencies and knowledge needed to deliver peer support effectively. These standards were developed in consultation with 600 peer supporters from across Canada.

Peer Support Canada offers the following:

- Peer supporter certification

- Family peer supporter certification

- Peer support mentor certification

- Family peer support mentor certification

2. Why pursue certification?

Peer support certification indicates that a peer supporter possesses the necessary competencies outlined in the National Standards of Practice as set out by Peer Support Canada. The certification of peer supporters recognizes the contribution of peer support in the mental health and addiction field and endorses peer support work as a valid and respected career.

Certification affirms that an individual is competent to do peer support work. Their skills may be utilized within community organizations, clinical settings and workplaces. Peer support work is increasingly valued and is being introduced into new settings as well.

The Peer Support Canada Certification standards have been endorsed by members of the peer support community across Canada and, as such, the credentials are national in scope, allowing peer supporters to carry the credential with them in work settings across the provinces and territories.

Certification helps extend a peer supporter’s network across Canada. Through mentorship, candidates connect with peer leaders from across the country, learning emerging best practices and having opportunities to collaborate.

Please note, Peer Support Canada views certification as voluntary and recognizes that not all peer supporters will choose this path.

3. Is Peer Support Canada Certification valid in all provinces and territories across Canada?

Yes. Certification verifies one’s alignment with the nationally endorsed Standards of Practice and is recognized across Canada. Peer Support Canada is the only organization offering peer support certification that is recognized nationally.

4. What are the qualifications for certification?

In order to qualify for peer supporter certification, an applicant must meet the following criteria:

- Have lived experience with a mental illness or mental health struggles (personally, or as a family member/loved one)

- Be on a path of recovery and wellness

- Have a readiness to support others

- Possess values aligned with the Peer Support Canada Code of Conduct

- Have experience meeting the Standards of Practice

- Have at least 200 hours of providing formalized peer support

In order to qualify for peer support mentor certification, an application must meet the following criteria:

- Be a Peer Support Canada certified peer supporter

- Have at least 5 years involvement in peer support work

- Bring skills and expertise in at least one of the following:

o Peer support program development or management

o Peer support coordination

o Mentoring, coaching and/or training of peer supporters

5. How long does the certification process take?

Peer Support Canada Certification typically takes between 12-24 months to complete, with some candidates completing within a year. We recognize that many candidates will wish to complete the certification process as promptly as possible, and we do our best to support this. The certification process is intended to be self-paced, so we are happy to accommodate breaks or extensions.

The mentor certification is a longer process and is generally completed in approximately 24 months.

6. What is the cost of Peer Support Canada Certification?

Peer support and family peer support certification costs are allocated and billed according to each phase of the process:

Phase 1: $90

Phase 2: $440

Phase 3: $750

Total: $1280

Peer support mentor and family peer support mentor certification costs are also allocated and billed according to each phase of the process:

Phase 1: $90

Phase 2: $440

Phase 3: $1220

Total: $1750

7. Are there any discounts or bursaries available for Peer Support Canada Certification?

As a not-for-profit organization, Peer Support Canada is not able to offer discounts or bursaries for peer supporter certification at this time. However, we do wish to highlight that certification is invoiced by phase, so the fee is not required up front (unless requested by the candidate). As certification can take at least 1 year to complete, the invoices can be spread out. We also work to facilitate the timing of payments to ensure candidates feel supported in this way.

Please note there are bursaries available to those pursing the mentor certifications. For more information, please contact us at info@peersupportcanada.ca.

8. What is the difference between peer support and family peer support certification types?

Both certifications are based on peer-to-peer relationships, meaning that the individuals or group members involved have a similar, common experience.

Our peer support certification is designed for individuals with lived experience of a mental health and/or addiction challenge or mental illness who are supporting others with a mental health and/or addiction challenge or mental illness.

The family peer support certification is designed for those practicing family peer support, where the term “family” includes those in a person’s circle of support. Family peer support is support that is provided by family members who have a mental health and/or addiction challenge or mental illness to others in a similar situation. This relationship recognizes the impact that shared experience can have on the recovery journey of all involved.

9. Is certification considered a training program?

Although there are many learning opportunities throughout the process, certification is not a training program. Certification is a confirmation of your knowledge and experience, rather than a form of training. While prior participation in peer support training may be beneficial for individuals seeking certification, it is a not a requirement for eligibility.

10. Do you offer direct peer support services?

Peer Support Canada is the national certifying body for peer supporters in Canada and does not offer any direct peer support services.

If you are interested in receiving peer support or mental health services, we encourage you to reach out to local peer support organizations to determine what may be available in your community. Your local CMHA branch may also be a good resource to direct you to local service options.

Have a question we haven’t answered above? Please email us at info@peersupportcanada.ca and we would be happy to support.

Connect with Peer Support Canada

500-250 Dundas Street West, Toronto, ON M5T 2Z5