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80-Hour Interactive Training Academy for Peer Support Workers

Course Includes Peer Support Training and Career Mentoring! Training approved for California's Medi-Cal Peer Specialist Certification Program & the National Certified Peer Specialist (NCPS) Credential

What is WISE U?

Cal Voices' WISE University is a 80- hour interactive peer training course, offered quarterly designed to aid in the development of peer support services and increase the peer workforce within substance-use and mental health service settings.


The primary goal is to assist WISE U participants with placement into a  full-time or part-time paid or volunteer peer position in the public mental health field. 


Following the peer training course, each successful applicant is matched with a WISE U Career Mentor who will work with them to create their individualized career plan to help gain or maintain peer employment. 


WISE U was created by Peers. Taught by Peers. For Peers. We are peer employment experts. 


Applications are continuously rolling

Audience Clapping
Who are Peers?

A peer has personal lived experience as a consumer and/or family member whose duties include a peer support role and contributing to the recovery culture of a team.​

Functions of a peer:

  • Model recovery

  • Offer support to help people experiencing mental health challenges lead meaningful lives in the community

  • Promote recovery

  • Teach skills

  • Enhance hope and social networking

  • Supplement existing treatment with education, empowerment, and aid in system navigation

  • Give helpful resources

View SAMHSA's "Who are Peer Workers?"

MHA National states that "peer support is the 'process of giving and receiving encouragement and assistance to achieve long-term recovery.” Peer supporters “offer emotional support, share knowledge, teach skills, provide practical assistance, and connect people with resources, opportunities, communities of support, and other people' (Mead, 2003; Solomon, 2004). In behavioral health, peers offer their unique lived experience with mental health conditions to provide support focused on advocacy, education, mentoring, and motivation." 

View MHA National's "What is a Peer?"

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What is Peer Support?

Peer support is considered an evidence-based best practice by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). Research shows peer support services can have a big impact on the consumers they support by:

  • Reducing symptoms and hospitalizations

  • Increasing social support and community participation

  • Decreasing lengths of hospital stays and costs of services

  • Improving well-being, self-esteem, and social functioning

  • Encouraging more thorough and longer-lasting recoveries

Working in peer support is a valuable and enriching experience. Peers use their own lived experience to support others who have gone through similar experiences.


"Peer support provides a hopeful framework for the person to envision a meaningful and purposeful life, recognizing that there are multiple pathways to recovery."

As more and more learn about the impact of peer support, opportunities, and career paths for peer specialists will grow and expand. The growth of peer support has the potential to radically transform the ways we support people in the behavioral health system." - MHA National

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What does WISE U Cover?

The training is based on Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) core principles for peer support as well as Cal Voices' organizational knowledge and experience as the oldest peer-run consumer advocacy agency in California.

  • Understanding of the Recovery Model

  • Key concepts of recovery

  • Guiding principles of recovery-oriented care

  • Core principles and values of peer support

  • ​Enhancing hope and social networking for clients served

  • Effective strategies to promote and model recovery

  • Meaningful support skills to help people experiencing mental health challenges

  • Sharing your story of lived experience

  • Cultural competence

  • Recovery planning

  • Trauma-Informed care

  • Support group facilitation

  • Identifying and maintaining ethical boundaries

  • Client privacy and HIPAA basics

  • Supplementing existing treatment with education, empowerment, and aid in system navigation

This training is designed to increase the workforce and development of peer support services in substance use disorders and mental health services settings. Funded by the HCAI.

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What does a Peer do?

Peer providers, (e.g., peer support specialists, recovery coaches) are people who use their experience of recovery from mental health and/or substance use disorders to support others in recovery. Combined with skills learned in formal training, like WISE U, their experience and institutional knowledge put them in a unique position to offer support. 


Peer roles:

  • Facilitating support groups

  • Peer counseling

  • Advocacy

  • Personal plan creation

  • WRAP® Workshops and Support

  • Health education/navigation

  • Cultural brokerage

  • Service referrals

  • Systems navigation

  • Benefits/healthcare acquisition

  • Crisis intervention

Group Discussion
WISE U Background

WISE is a program of Cal Voices. Cal Voices was established in 1946 and is the oldest peer-run consumer advocacy agency in California.


For over 70 years Cal Voices has focused on advocating for the interests of public mental health consumers and increasing the accessibility, quality, and affordability of mental health care.


Since our beginnings, we have branched out to more than advocacy by providing peer support in collaboration with various counties and agencies throughout California. Along the way, we picked up some valuable knowledge about how to build capacity for the peer role and incorporate peer support workers as a meaningful part of the multi-disciplinary team of mental health professionals.

Workforce Integration Support and Education (WISE) was created in 2014.  WISE currently receives funding from the California Department of Health Care Access (HCAI) formerly OSPHD with dollars from Prop 63 (MHSA), WISE supports, trains, and provides technical assistance to agencies employing peers and the peer providers themselves. The WISE U curriculum was developed through years of data collection, analysis and research.

WISE U is a recognized training program for California's Medi-Cal Peer Specialist Certification program in preparation for the MHA National Certified Peer Specialist Certification.

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