In early 2013, President Obama released the Now is the Time Initiative intended to increase access to behavioral health services and reduce gun violence. Stemming from that initiative, SAMHSA’s Behavioral Health Workforce Education and Training (BHWET) grant program is a collaboration with the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) designed to increase the behavioral health workforce equipped to work with the often underserved population of transition-aged youth.
In September 2014, MHA of Oregon was awarded a 3 year grant through the HRSA BHWET grant program along with a number of other awardees. Of those awardees, the vast majority are colleges and universities. We are one of the only peer-run organizations to have been awarded this grant!
The goal of the project is develop a network of Youth and Young Adult Peer Mentors across the state of Oregon to ensure that youth and young adults are able to access high quality Peer Support Specialists with the knowledge, skills, and experience to offer them the supports that they need to move forward with their goals and dreams.
The Youth & Young Adult Peer Mentor Training Program utilizes a certified Peer Support Specialist training curriculum with a focus on the unique challenges of youth and young adults. The specific subtype of Peer Support Specialist certification obtained through this program is "youth” and “mental health.” Funded by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), this program is intended for individuals who do or plan on doing work with youth and young adults.
This interactive training is 40 hours of in-class time and also has a 20 hour service learning component. Service learning offers the opportunity to learn and grown in an experiential setting. Students are responsible for completing the 20 hours and providing necessary information and documentation to the training instructors prior to graduating from the program. Students are then eligible to apply to the state to become a certified Peer Support Specialist.
Individuals with lived experience of behavioral health challenges who are between about 23 and 45 years of age are eligible to apply to enroll in the training program. Scholarships are available through the program’s federal funding agency—the Health Resources and Services Administration. The application process for the program involves an in-person interview and a brief written application.