Peer Support Training

About Peer Support Training

The Vancouver Mental Health & Substance Use Services Peer Support Program offers formal training to those with lived experience receiving mental health services that qualifies them to apply for paid work providing support to others living with mental health issues. The program recognizes the value of lived experience, the positive learning that comes from it and the unique position that peers are often in to inspire hope as well as share insights, strategies and knowledge of resources from the perspective of having used them.

Peer Support Worker Training is provided through Vancouver Mental Health and Substance Use and other organizations such as Coast Mental Health. VCH Peer Support programs also operate on the North Shore, in Richmond, and along the Sea-to-Sky. Peer support workers receive classroom and practical training. Areas of learning include roles and responsibilities of a peer support worker, communication, boundaries, strengths-based approach/psychosocial rehabilitation principles, trauma-informed care, motivational interviewing, and confidentiality.

Update on Peer Support Worker Training

We do not have a 2024 training scheduled at this time. Please subscribe to our newsletter to find out when the next training will take place.

Some opportunities to prepare for Peer Support Worker Training include:

SMART Recovery support groups and trainings: SMART Recovery – Self-Management and Recovery Training – Vancouver Coastal Health (

Vancouver Coastal Health Volunteer Program especially roles involving recreation, fitness, mental health/substance use, and supporting other people with working on their personal goals.

Other Peer Support Worker Trainings include:

Open Door Group’s Thrive Program is currently offering Peer Support Worker Training and Peer Support Worker Work Experience Opportunities:

Coast Mental Health: Information about their Peer Support Program can be found at

A free peer support worker curriculum is also available at This curriculum was funded by the B.C. Ministry of Mental Health and Addictions with the guidance of working peer support workers and other folks with lived experience. Completion of this curriculum will be a pre-requisite of acceptance to the training program.

Who are Peer Support Workers?

Peer Support Workers are individuals with lived experience of mental illness/substance use who have graduated from a Peer Support Worker Training Program. These individuals work on a contracted basis under the supervision of Rehabilitation staff with clients who access Vancouver Mental Health and Substance Use programs and services , providing support to achieve personal goals, learn new skills, and link with community resources. The peer support relationship typically lasts until the established goals of the relationship are achieved. This varies from weeks to months.

What’s the Job of a Peer Support Worker?

Peer Support Workers in our Peer Support Program provide practical and emotional support to others, helping them to attain goals, acquire new skills and/or link to community resources. Those receiving peer support services benefit from relational support from someone who is “walking the walk” of recovery. The system benefits from the opportunity for other mental health workers to work alongside people who are open about their personal experiences of mental illness as colleagues. This can result in system practices being better informed by lived experience and also in stigma being broken down.

Those who work as Peer Support Workers also report that the program makes a difference to them, helping them to move forward in their recovery and sometimes reframe past struggles as assets.

How do I receive Peer Support?

Access to receive peer support is through referral from a staff member on the mental health team or unit where a client is receiving services. To request a peer support worker, please ask your health care provider. 

There are Peer Support Workers working at all Vancouver Community Mental Health Teams, many specialized units, and some hospital sites.