What is Youth Peer Support?

A lot changes as youth transition to adulthood and take on more independence. It is helpful to have some help along the way from someone who has been through something similar. Youth Peer Support is a community-based program that employs young people who have successfully navigated life challenges, to promote belonging, hope, and shared power within the community as a Youth Peer Support Specialist (YPSS).

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To become a Certified YPSS

What is a Youth Peer Support Specialist?

Youth Peer Support Specialists connect with peers in their community in a mutual relationship of shared empathy and demonstrated resiliency. They provide the additional support, validation, and encouragement necessary for youth to effectively engage with their support systems during the transition to adulthood.

Why is Youth Peer Support Important for New Mexico?

Research supports Youth Peer Support (YPS) as an innovative effective way to attract, engage, and serve young people with significant mental health challenges (Jackson, S., Walker, J. S., & Seibel, C., 2015). Youth in New Mexico are experiencing an increase in indicators of poor mental health and strong peer support has been shown to be a protective factor (NMDOH, 2022). Through the training, certification, and employment of Youth Peer Support Specialist, New Mexico can help address the dire need for mental health support among youth while also creating a pathway for young people to enter the mental health field while centering the expertise of lived experience.

Our Role in Youth Peer Support

The Center of Innovation, in partnership with CYFD-BHS and community stakeholders, has developed the Youth Peer Support Certification pathway. The COI facilitated regular YPS Certification trainings and supports applicants throughout the certification process. The COI also works closely with CYFD-BHS to support community agencies interested in creating professional opportunities for Youth Peer Support Specialists to serve in their communities.


Requirements for Youth Peer Support Specialist Certification:

  • Complete application and interview process to verify eligibility
  • Attend 40-hour Youth Peer Support Certification Training
  • Complete 40 hours of Work Exposure Hours with a youth serving agency
  • Complete oral Reflection of Learning or written Exam for certification



Children, Youth & Families Department Contact:

Rosella McCaffrey: [email protected]

Upcoming YPS Trainings