988:Three Forms Of Policy and Peer Role Utilization

Sarah Fatemeh Porter, Nev Jones, Ph.D., and Jess Stohlmann-Rainey

The National Suicide Hotline Designation Act of 2020 (988) presents an important opportunity for states to intentionally expand crisis response service systems by integrating lived expertise of mental health crises. Some states already do so through the utilization of mental health peers in a range of crisis response roles (e.g., crisis call centers, mobile crisis teams), but wide variation exists around how mental health peers are defined and operationalized. Additionally, the rapid expansion of crisis response services within and across states also poses the potential to create harmful and coercive peer roles if the development and implementation process fails to emphasize diverse experiences of mental health crises.

This session will address the development of three state-level policy types that influence how peers are able to function within states’ mental health crisis care systems. These include state-level 988 legislation, Medicaid reimbursement amendments, and peer certification legislation. This presentation will critically examine a range of policy language that define peers and includes requirements for hiring and/or credentialing that may lead to states para-professionalizing peers. This critical exploration will provide attendees with the opportunity to examine and discuss states conceptualization and exclusion of peer identity types within mental health crisis systems.

Learning objectives for this session include:

  • Identify range of state definitions and requirements for peers;
  • Explore three forms of state-level policy that can influence peer role utilization and operationalization across states mental health crisis systems;
  • Discuss barriers to valuing the diverse identities and/or lived experiences of peers in the mental health crisis care system;
  • Explore opportunities for improving peer roles through policy advocacy.