SB 906 Certified Peer Support Specialist

status: sb 906 was vetoed by the governor

The big picture. SB 906 is a critical piece of legislation that allows qualified peer providers – people who have lived experience as clients, family members, or caretakers of individuals recovering from mental illness or addiction – to be certified by the state to deliver services to other individuals with such disorders. Both research and anecdote back up that individuals with lived experience of mental illness are profoundly suited to provide powerful guidance to others on a similar journey.

The details. A peer provider is a person who combines specialized training and their own lived experience with mental illness and/or substance use disorder and recovery, to deliver valuable support services.This bill requires the Department of Health Care Services (DHCS) to establish a Certified Support Specialist (CSS) certification program. The program defines the range of responsibilities and practice guidelines for peer support specialists, specifies required training and continuing education requirements, determines clinical supervision requirements, and establishes a code of ethics and processes for revocation of certification.  SB 906 authorizes DHCS to amend the State’s Medicaid Plan to add peer support providers as a provider type within the Medi-Cal program. 

The research.  Across the nation, peer support programs have emerged as a successful practice with proven benefits to both peers and their clients. Peers can include people who have lived experience as clients, family members, or caretakers of individuals living with mental illness. Studies show that using peer support specialists helps reduce hospitalizations, improves functioning, increases satisfaction, alleviates depression and other symptoms, and diversifies the mental health workforce.

The story. Peer support programs can have a real and drastic influence on people's lives, especially when they need it most. We are happy to share stories of those who have found recovery through peer to peer programs, in the hope that others can follow their lead. Please visit our #31daysofrecovery page which features the real-life stories of people finding recovery. 

bigstock--209413996- small.jpg

read Pamela'S story

"Writing these words are the scariest thing I have ever done but most necessary because if it had not been for NAMI I was going to end my life. No one can ever know the scream inside that haunts me. I have suffered in Silence. Today it is my hope that my story will help others use their voices to change how we do things in our communities and counties. On May 11 2016 my brother Shawn committed suicide. I speak truth to power so I can help others see what needs to change in our communities..."

 Click here to continue reading



nami peer PROGRAMS: 

Supporters of SB 906

  • Steinberg Institute (sponsor)

  • American Civil Liberties Union of California

  • Association of California Healthcare Districts

  • Association of Community Human Service Agencies

  • Bay Area Community Services

  • California Alliance of Child and Family Services

  • California Association of Mental Health Peer-Run Organizations

  • California Behavioral Health Planning Council

  • California Disability Community Action Network

  • California State Association of Counties

  • California Youth Empowerment Network

  • County Behavioral Health Directors Association of California


  • Disability Rights California

  • Massage Garage Pit Crew

  • Mental Health America of California

  • Mental Health Services Oversight and Accountability Commission

  • Pool of Consumer Champions

  • Self-Help and Recovery Exchange

  • The Village Family Services

  • United Advocates for Children and Families

  • United Advocates for Children and Families Action Alliance

  • Western Center on Law and Poverty