Digital Peer Support Certification


View the Digital Peer Support Certification online training and complete the knowledge test on your own time here.

The Digital Peer Support Certification was co-produced with scientists and peer support specialists and includes education and simulation training sessions, synchronous and asynchronous technology support services, and on-going feedback. The Digital Peer Support Certification has been found to an effective knowledge translation training that has shown to increase peer support specialists’ capacity to use digital peer support in practice. Our scientific manuscript is currently under review, please contact us for a copy.

The 12-hour “live” Digital Peer Support Certification includes dyadic training with one day of training for six consecutive weeks for 2 hours each day:

Week 1 – Discovering Digital Peer Support (2 hours)

Discussion of the history of digital peer support within the peer support movement. This discussion presents scientific evidence of what is digital peer support, practical examples of uses of digital peer support with various settings, and presentation of the landscape of digital peer support ranging from telephonic peer support to video game peer support. 
Handout: History of Peer Support Designline – Produced by SAMHSA 

Week 2 – Digital Peer Support Competencies (2 hours)

As digital peer support is quickly expanding across the globe in wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, standardization in the training and delivery of digital peer support can advance the professionalism of this field. While telehealth competencies exist for other fields of mental health practice such as social work, psychiatry, and psychology, limited research has been done to develop and promote digital peer support competencies. The goal of this discussion is to introduce the co-production of core-competencies which can guide digital peer-support, including (1) protecting the rights of service users; (2) technical knowledge and skill in the practice of digital peer support; (3) available technologies; (4) equity of access; (5) digital communication skills; (6) performance-based training; (7) monitoring digital peer support and addressing digital crisis; (8) peer support competencies; (9) self-care (emerging); and (10) health literacy (emerging). The introduction of digital peer support core competencies is an initial first step to promote the standardization of best practices in digital peer support. The established competencies can potentially act as a guide for training and skill development to be integrated into state peer support specialist competencies and enhance competencies endorsed by the Substance Abuse for Mental Health Services Administration.
Handout: Digital Peer Support Competencies 

Week 3 – Access and Engagement of Service Users with Technology (2 hours)

This discussion focuses on obtaining free or low-cost technologies for peer support specialists and service users using publicly and local available resources. mHealth equity of access is discussed and engagement by special populations, including older adults, justice-involved, people in rural locations, and people experiencing homelessness. 
Handout: Checklist for Digital Peer Support Equity & Resource Guide to Access Free or Low Cost Technologies 

Week 4 – Ethics, Privacy, and Confidentiality (2 hours)

Digital peer support has the potential to expand the reach of peer support services by increasing engagement among mental health service users without the need for in-person sessions. Yet, as the digitalization of mental health systems progresses, the ethical and social debate on the use of these mental health technologies has seldom been explored among users and providers. This discussion explores the knowledge of security and ethics of mental health technologies. Focused discussions include peer support specialists working with service older users with less technology skills and literacy. Controversial topics will be presented including digital and data mis(trust), “data justice” and digital mental health by providing first-hand experience of digital ethics from users and providers’ perspectives. 
Handout: How to Interpret a Smartphone App Privacy Statement & How to Select Technologies Using Decision-Support Tool 

Week 5 – Delivering Peer Support through Available Technologies: Transparency and Informed Consent (2 hours)

This discussion focuses on delivering peer support through technology mediums, including text-message exchanges, video games, and video conferencing. This discussion focuses on requirements for informed consent to provide services and to use technologies. 
Handout: Sample Informed Consent form

Week 6 – Pulling it All Together and Certification Celebration (2 hours) 

This discussion is designed to reinforce learnings and the of practice digital peer support. This session includes a group oral examination and a 40-item test (requires an 80% of higher to pass).