The most recent Bulletin, OMHSAS-19-05, identifies the following criteria to be trained as a Certified Peer Specialist:

  • Self-identify as an individual who has received or is receiving mental health services for a “serious emotional disturbance” or “serious mental illness”;
  • Eighteen (18) years of age or older;
  • Have a high school diploma or general equivalency diploma; and
  • Within the last three (3) years, have either maintained at least 12 months of successful work or volunteer experience, or earned at least 24 credit hours at a college or post-secondary educational institution.
    • Need volunteer experience? Volunteering for Compeer is a great option. Learn more at the PA Compeer Coalition website.
  • Training: you must complete and pass Certified Peer Specialist training.
  • Certification: you must complete all required steps to receive your credential through the Pennsylvania Certification Board


Serious Emotional Disturbance (SED) – A condition experienced by a person under 18 years of age who currently or at any time during the past year had a diagnosable mental, behavioral, or emotional disorder of sufficient duration to meet diagnostic criteria specified within the current Diagnostic and Statistical Manual; and that resulted in functional impairment which substantially interferes with or limits the individual’s role or functioning in family, education activities or community activities.

Serious Mental Illness (SMI) – A condition experienced by persons 18 years of age and older who, at any time during the past year, had a diagnosable mental, behavioral, or emotional disorder that met the diagnostic criteria within the current DSM and that has resulted in functional impairment and which substantially interferes with or limits one or more major life activities. Adults who would have met functional impairment criteria during the referenced year without the benefit of treatment or other support services are considered to have serious mental illness. Substance use disorders and developmental disorders are not included.

Do you meet these qualifications? Do you think that you can provide positive encouragement, service, and skills, to assist other people in the recovery process?

If you answered “yes” to all of the above, you have what it takes to become a Certified Peer Support Specialist.

Look for upcoming Peer Support Specialist trainings in Pennsylvania.