Youth Peer Support Services

Youth Peer Support is a unique service that is provided by young adults who have lived experience receiving mental health services as a youth. Youth Peer Support Specialists (YPSS) self-identify as people who have received mental health services, and who are willing and prepared to use their experience in helping others. YPSSs provide support to other youth who are currently experiencing a serious emotional disturbance through shared activities and interventions.


Goals of Youth Peer Support (YPS) include:

  • Supporting Youth Empowerment
  • Assisting youth in developing skills to improve their overall functioning and quality of life
  • Working collaboratively with others involved in delivering the youth’s care

YPS is delivered in three ways:

  1. Direct Support
  2. Information Sharing
  3. Skill Building

YPSSs are individuals with direct lived experience with mental health systems and are between the ages of 18 and 26. YPSSs are willing and prepared to share their experiences with others who are currently receiving services in order to:

  • Promote awareness and acceptance about behavioral health issues while reducing stigma.
  • Share their experiences in a way that helps other young people currently receiving services to make good use of their services.
  • Support a sense of empowerment allowing young people to have influence and ownership over the services they receive.
  • Build bridges between youth, families and other community members.
  • Empower young people to develop skills through peer support, shared information and building connections.
  • Model a sense of hope and expectancy.
  • Encourage youth participation and ownership in services and system activities.

YPSSs engage and work with youth during different phases of treatment. Youth Peer Support is not a stand-alone service, but will be built into ongoing support plans along with other interventions. Youth Peer Support activities vary from one person to another and are based on the needs, priorities and interests of the youth peer. The youth peer relationship helps identify and define activities. An effective plan will outline a range of youth peer support activities that an YPSS may deliver to:

  • Assist and support the youth during transition
  • Build and foster relationships with family & others working with the family
  • Support youth participation in the treatment planning process
  • Teach self-advocacy skills
  • Support youth/parent or caregiver relationship
  • Teach problem-solving skills
  • Build independent living skills
  • Prepare the youth to fully participate in their own meetings
  • Link youth to community and activities
  • Provide community education about youth culture and perspective
  • Interrupt bias and promote a stance of acceptance while reducing stigma about mental health
  • Empower the youth to build understanding in others about their unique mental needs