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Integrating Behavioral Health Peer Support Specialists into Crisis Response


Across the United States, law enforcement and behavioral health agencies have increasingly begun to incorporate peer support specialists in their responses to people experiencing behavioral health crises in their community. Peer support specialists are individuals with lived experience with mental health conditions, substance use disorders, and/or trauma who are trained, and often certified, to support others with similar experiences in their community. These professionals are being integrated into crisis response programs to enhance interactions with people experiencing behavioral health crises and provide follow-up to promote engagement with needed support and services.

Presented by the Bureau of Justice Assistance’s Academic Training Initiative to Inform Police Responses, this webinar provides an overview of the roles of behavioral health peer support specialists across the criminal justice system, discusses the newer role of peer support specialists in crisis response, and provides examples of how peer support specialists are trained and embedded in teams of professionals tasked with responding to crisis calls in the community. Additionally, this webinar considers how people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) might be integrated into similar peer support roles to enhance crisis responses to people with IDD.


  1. Chanson Noether, Director, Policy Research Associates

  2. Patricia McIntosh, Director of Community Safety and Wellness, City of Hartford (CT)

  3. Stephanie Perez, Peer Recovery Specialist, Hartford Emergency Assistance Response Team (HEARTeam)

  4. Leigh Ann Davis, Director of Criminal Justice Initiatives, The Arc of the United States and National Center on Criminal Justice and Disability

  5. Jordan Smelley, Mental Health Peer Support Specialist, Association of Person's Affected by Addiction (Dallas, TX)


Webinar Recording


Webinar Slides

Download PDF • 2.31MB


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