A Systematic Review of the Roles and Contributions of Peer Providers in the Behavioral Health Workforce


Maria G. Gaiser, Jessica L. Buche, Caitlyn C. Wayment, Victoria Schoebel, Judith E. Smith, Susan A. Chapman, and Angela J. Beck

June 24, 2021

Approximately 1 in 5 U.S. adults experienced a mental illness in the past year, a number that is expected to rise amid a shortage of mental health and substance use disorder (SUD) providers. One way to address this growing need for behavioral health services is through the use of peer providers, or individuals with lived experiences who are dedicated to promoting long-term recovery from behavioral health concerns. Peer providers act as recovery catalysts who motivate and empower clients by supporting their goals and decisions in the recovery process. Peer support services can reduce the likelihood of relapse and prevent chronic mental illness, long-term disability, and substance overdose.

Peer providers with lived experiences of mental health and substance use are a growing component of the workforce responsible for the prevention and treatment of behavioral health disorders. This systematic literature review aims to better define the roles of peers and their unique contributions to behavioral health care.