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Certified Young Adult Peer Support Specialist

Transitioning to adulthood can be hard, but with the addition of a behavioral health condition or a history of trauma, navigating those changes and challenges becomes even more difficult. When a person turns eighteen, they do not suddenly have all of the answers to the questions of how to manage continuity of care and obtain stable housing, food, transportation, and employment. So often, young adults fall through the cracks of systems that they have aged out of.

However, many of these young adults have gone on to embrace a life of recovery, a journey of healing, and a path of wellness. They are ready to utilize their experiences as young adults who have overcome hardship to serve and support others. For these individuals, we offer the Tennessee Certified Young Adult Peer Support Specialist program.

These individuals self-identify as being in recovery or on a path of wellness because of their mental health condition, substance abuse, co-occurring disorder, or involvement in another child or adult-serving system (e.g. juvenile justice, criminal justice, foster care, homeless services, or child protective services). Often, those who have been through these other systems will have similar experiences and symptoms to those with mental illness, since systems involvement can have a traumatic effect.

However, these individuals often do not identify as having a mental health challenge or were never diagnosed with one. We recognize that they have the valuable lived experience needed for effective peer support. Thus, we have expanded the typical eligibility criteria for lived experiences, while also creating an age distinction that limits eligibility to individuals between the ages of eighteen and thirty.

Because of their lived experience, Certified Young Adult Peer Support Specialists (CYAPSS) will be able to, with specialized training and guidance, draw from their own journey of recovery and healing to inspire hope in those they serve.

Peers, staff, and community members will benefit greatly from hearing the remarkable stories of resiliency and growth that the CYAPSS have to share. They will provide direct support to others who are facing similar situations and help them achieve their personal goals by promoting self-determination, personal responsibility, and the empowerment inherent in self-directed and strengths-based recovery and wellness.

Other direct peer-to-peer services include developing community supports and serving as an advocate or mentor. They will also provide information on ways to maintain personal wellness and recovery, as well as how to navigate behavioral health systems.

For More Information

If you have concerns or need services for yourself, a child, or family member, contact our Helpline:
Phone: 800-560-5767
Email: OCA.TDMHSAS@tn.gov
Hours: Monday – Friday: 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. (except for state holidays)

If you feel at any time that you are experiencing a mental health crisis, please call the Tennessee Statewide Crisis Line toll-free 24 hours, 7 days a week at 1-855-274-7471.

To learn more about the Certified Young Adult Peer Support Specialist program, please contact:

Jules Wilson
Youth & Young Adult Coordinator
615-532-3754
Jules.Wilson@tn.gov