Thanks to research and innovation, the mental health field is ever-changing. Just like any other professional workforce, peer specialists are often required to participate in continuing education. In addition, learning about new resources and tools can result in benefits for the peer specialist’s impact on the individuals being supported, the contributions made within the treatment team, and even a peer specialist’s own wellness.
If you have questions about maintaining certification and continuing education requirements, your best resources include the state in which you were certified, the organization through which you received training, and your employer. While not all will have requirements, it is important to check in with any entity involved in your initial certification, as well as your employment, as requirements may differ.
There are many training opportunities for continuing education once a person is certified as a peer specialist. The DBSA Peer Leadership Center has a number of continuing education opportunities available, as well as listings for many other organizations that can provide continuing education. You can learn about upcoming training opportunities here. Your state office, mental health organizations, or local agencies may also provide listings of accepted continuing education opportunities on their website or newsletter. Continuing education trainings can occur both online and in person.
DBSA Peer Leadership Center Continuing Education
The DBSA Peer Leadership Center includes many online continuing education opportunities. The current curriculum includes:
- Conflict Resolution Webinar
- Living Successfully with a Mood Disorder
- Recovery Goal-Setting with Peers - a Three-Part Series
Some continuing education opportunities are available at no cost, some include a small fee, and others have higher price tags. If you are working as a peer specialist, discuss what options might exist to support your continuing education. If support is not available from your place of employment, or you are not yet employed as a peer specialist, there are many options to fundraise for training. Many trainings include the opportunity to apply for a full or partial scholarship. Asking the organization you’re applying to about scholarships is a great first step. These scholarships can often be quite competitive, so it is important to continue planning and researching funding options while you wait for scholarship announcements. Other funding ideas and sources include:
- Your state’s Office of Consumer Affairs
- Local resources for individuals living with disabilities
- Local mental health agencies, drop-in centers, or mental health departments
- Your local church community
- Vocational rehabilitation counselor or benefits office
- Consumer-run organizations and other mental health organizations in your area
- Online personal fundraisers through sites such as Indiegogo, Crowdfunder, or Gofundme. There are many options for online fundraising, so research which site will provide the most benefit to you.
- Your workplace or an organization you volunteer for may benefit from you learning peer support competencies, so you may decide to request to discuss financial support options with your supervisor.
- Family and friends may be able to provide some financial support, or can assist in brainstorming additional fundraising ideas.
When fundraising, be sure to consider the total amount needed, including not only the cost of the training course itself, but also any additional costs that you might incur for travel, lodging, etc. While it is rare that one supporter would cover the entire cost, don’t let that discourage you. Many smaller donations can add up quickly! When presenting your request for support, be sure to share your reasons for wanting to attend the training and what you plan to do once you receive certification. If a person or organization is not able to support at the time, they could be a great resource for additional ideas on fundraising.