Peer support involves a range of interactions and activities between people, peer support workers and people in or seeking recovery, who share similar experiences with mental health conditions and/or substance use disorders. Peer support workers share their own lived experiences and practical guidance and help people create strategies for self-empowerment, develop goals, and take steps toward building fulfilling lives. The connection between a peer support worker and people in or seeking recovery provides hope, validation, acceptance, and understanding.

Learn more about peer support and what peer support workers do here:
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration

Idaho Department of Health and Welfare

Division of Behavioral Health (DBH) Background Check Waiver  

The Idaho Department of Health and Welfare – Division of Behavioral Health’s Background Check Waiver provides an opportunity for individuals who are unable to pass a criminal history background check to request a waiver that would allow them to work, train or intern as a Recovery Coach, Peer Support Specialist, or Family Support Partner. 

Here at Empower Idaho, we applaud this waiver since studies and research show that Peer Support for behavioral health improves anxiety, depression and functioning, psychotic symptoms and overall mental health significantly. For individuals in recovery, Peer Support offers shared understanding, respect and mutual empowerment that facilitates the recovery process and reduces the possibility of relapse. Peer Support builds hope for healing resulting in improved quality of life. 

According to Psychiatry Advisor, “It is a win-win situation if those in recovery are trained and hired to provide peer support to those currently struggling mentally. The client receives support from peers who can model self-care and help them navigate the health care system, while the peer counselors are gainfully employed in a job that supports their own recovery by providing meaningful work.” 

Empower Idaho invests in Peer Support professionals by providing three Peer Support Conferences, annually. These conferences offer free continuing education units (CEUs); those within the Peer Support workforce must attain 10 CEUs each year to maintain their licensure. Participation in these trainings is consistently high and many of the presenters are behavioral health providers, in recovery and/or have lived with mental illness themselves. These conferences score high marks from attendees for their content and usefulness. 

There is no fee for the waiver, however, applicants must first be denied by the Idaho Criminal History Unit (CHU) which does require a fee, before applying. Learn more at the CHU website. 

The waiver application review process may take up to 45 days. Applicants must be associated with an agency or in a training program to obtain certification, and waivers can be transferred, in a separate application process, to a new employer or agency.  

Access DBH Background Check Waiver applications, frequently asked questions, request for transfer and rule changes  

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)’s Modelo Nacional de Normas Para la Certificación de Apoyo Entre Pares:

El documento guía de modelo de normas de SAMHSA titulado, Modelo nacional de normas para la certificación de apoyo entre pares, ha sido preparado como respuesta a la agenda de unidad del 2022 del presidente Biden. Este documento delinea el modelo nacional de normas en el área del consumo de sustancias, la salud mental la familia así como también la certificación de apoyo entre pares jóvenes.

Encuentre aquí el Modelo nacional de normas para la certificación de apoyo entre pares de SAMHSA