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ESP Peer Specialist Training Program

Turn your life experience into a career helping others!

The ESP Program is a Peer Specialist Training and Career Exploration Program available for young adults who have overcome mental health and or substance use challenges and would like to give back to their community.


Becoming a certified Peer Support Specialist in California can be a rewarding and meaningful career choice for several reasons:


  1. Empowerment: Peer Support Specialists empower others by fostering hope, resilience, and self-advocacy. They play a crucial role in helping individuals regain control of their lives and mental health.
  2. Making a Difference: By sharing their stories and offering support, Peer Support Specialists can positively impact the lives of those facing mental health difficulties. They contribute to reducing stigma and providing a sense of community and understanding.
  3. Building Connections: Peer Support Specialists often develop strong bonds with the individuals they support. Building these connections can be personally rewarding and contribute to the overall well-being of both parties.
  4. Professional Development: Becoming a certified Peer Support Specialist involves training and ongoing professional development. It provides individuals with the opportunity to enhance their skills, knowledge, and expertise in the mental health field.
  5. Employment Opportunities: Peer support services are increasingly recognized and integrated into mental health treatment programs. As a certified specialist, one can access various employment opportunities in mental health facilities, community organizations, and government agencies.
  6. Advocacy: Peer Support Specialists can play a vital role in advocating for the needs and rights of individuals with mental health conditions. They can help ensure that mental health services are responsive and sensitive to the experiences of those they support.
  7. Collaborative Approach: Peer support complements traditional mental health services by providing a collaborative and holistic approach to recovery. Working alongside mental health professionals, Peer Support Specialists contribute to a more comprehensive treatment process.
  8. Personal Growth: The work of a Peer Support Specialist can be personally transformative. Engaging with others and providing support can lead to increased self-awareness, empathy, and interpersonal skills.
  9. Overcoming Challenges: Supporting others in their recovery journey can be challenging but also deeply rewarding. The satisfaction of witnessing positive changes and progress in those they support can be a driving force for Peer Support Specialists.

Overall, becoming a certified Peer Support Specialist in California offers a unique opportunity to positively impact the lives of individuals with mental health challenges while utilizing one’s own experiences and strengths to facilitate healing and growth in others.


Program Structure

  • All program participants will receive assistance to apply for participation in a Peer Support Specialist Training facilitated by a CalMHSA-approved training provider.
  • All program participants approved for training will go through paid work readiness training.
  • All program participants approved for training will have the ability to participate in paid job shadow experiences or paid work experiences

Internship Requirements

  • Possess lived experience*
  • Be 18-24 years of age.
  • Possess a high school diploma or equivalent degree.
  • Have access to an internet connection and the ability to utilize a computer or laptop
  • Be willing to share their lived experience and possess a strong dedication to recovery
  • Must be able to commit and actively participate in the entire 80-hour live online training sessions from January 22, 2024 to February 7, 2024
  • Must commit to the goal of successfully completing the training requirements for the Medi-Cal Peer Support Specialist Certification
  • Must agree, in writing, to adhere to the Code of Ethics.

*Lived experience is defined as being self-identified as having experience with the process of recovery from a mental illness or substance use disorder, either as a consumer of these services or as the parent, caregiver, or family member of a consumer.