Peer Support Specialist as P&A Advocates: A Powerful Combination

Jane Moore, Carly Mahaffey and Mark Joyce, J.D.

This workshop would bring together two psychiatric survivors from Maine who are trained in and worked as intentional peer support (IPS) specialists and are now employed as advocates by Disability Rights Maine, the Protection and Advocacy system. This will be an interactive presentation and discussion on how bringing the training, skills and experiences working as a Certified Intentional Peer Support Specialist into the role of P&A advocate provides a unique and better-informed approach to mental health advocacy.

Both presenters are trained legal advocates and have received training in Intentional Peer Support (IPS) from the state of Maine to work as Certified Intentional Peer Support Specialists (CIPSS). The presenters will provide a general overview of IPS as they were taught it and then lead a discussion on how that training assists them in their advocacy work. The presenters will each share how they approach their advocacy work in a way that is a bit different from those without their experiences and IPS training. For example, making a connection with the person on a human level based on shared experiences as a psychiatric survivor before problem solving and then ensuring that the peer’s voice is the one being heard.

They will discuss how bringing Intentional Peer Support training and experience into their mental health advocacy work makes them very strong and qualified advocates. They will present examples of how using the principles and tasks of IPS within their daily work has helped to issues that likely would not have been found and has enhanced their advocacy in specific cases. They will also discuss some of the challenges they have faced and what kinds of supports they need from the P&A in addressing those challenges.

Mark Joyce, former NARPA board member and the managing attorney of all of DRM’s mental health advocacy, will participate via Zoom to discuss DRMs experience in recruiting, hiring, supervising and retaining people trained in Intentional Peer Support as advocates and how DRM will now seek to find CIPSS as PAIMI advocates.


  1. A general understanding of how IPS principles and tasks make for better and more informed advocacy.
  2. To learn of how having IPS training might inform our approach to advocacy.
  3. To understand how being a P & A advocate can bring power to the voice of those with IPS training.
  4. To identify the challenges the presenters have had with working for a legal services organization and being an effective advocate. This will include challenges from external factors as well as personal reflections.
  5. To learn of what impact IPS trained advocates have on the DRM mental health advocacy team and on DRM as an organization.
  6. To understand how a P&A can support the IPS trained advocates and some challenges that have arisen for the organization.
  7. To view IPS advocates from a supervisor’s perspective.
  8. To understand why P&As should consider hiring people trained in Intentional Peer Support as mental health advocates and why people who have been in the psychiatric system and trained in IPS might want to consider applying for jobs at their P&A.
  9. To brainstorm on what ways a P&A can attract people with psychiatric histories who have been trained in IPS as advocates.