Peer Support Accreditation and Certification (Canada) [PSACC] is a not-for-profit organization created to provide national certification and accreditation services in accordance with nationally endorsed standards of practice for mental health peer supporters. Its corporate mandate includes undertaking research and evaluation pertaining to peer delivered mental health services and programs.PSACC has an acknowledged leadership role in managing the collection of evidence based data aimed at furthering the advancement of peer support – a non clinical, recovery based approach that is complementary to the medical model of mental health care. Learn more…
How PSACC Came to Be
January 2010 – an unsolicited, non-clinical mental health services proposal was submitted to the Board of the Mental Health Commission of Canada (MHCC) outlining a project to help transform the mental health system in Canada. The long-term vision of the five year project with the MHCC was to fully integrate peer support within Canada’s mental health system, as a complementary service to clinical methods of care. The proposal was accepted by the members of the Board.
June 2010 – an outline of the MHCC Peer Project was tabled at an MHCC management meeting and it included the following key deliverables: standards of practice for providing peer support, an outcomes based evaluation strategy for peer support, and pilot testing of peer support programs in workplaces.
A sacrosanct premise of the project was that it involve individuals providing mental health peer support from across Canada; the project would be one led and driven by individuals with lived experience of mental health problems and illnesses.
August 2010 – an invitation to almost 600 peer support workers and agencies was sent inviting recipients to complete a short survey and also asking them to indicate their desire to participate in the MHCC Peer Project, by way of a process of consultations.
Fall 2010 – a series of in-person, cross-country consultations was conducted (114 people were interviewed in different parts of Canada) and the results of these consultations were used to develop the framework for peer support
- Standards of practice consisting of the knowledge, competencies, experience and code of conduct requirements to effectively provide peer support services in a variety of settings; and the core values and principles of practice to guide peer support workers;
- the organizational requirements to properly implement and manage peer support services; and
- an evidence-based evaluation strategy to appropriately assess the short, medium and long-term outcomes demonstrating the effectiveness of peer support.
December 2010 – detailed content from the framework was used to develop a comprehensive survey that was sent to close to 300 peer supporters. The response rate was remarkably high with 53% of the recipients completing the survey. In addition, the framework for peer support was highly validated by the respondents.
Spring/summer 2011 – work continued on refining the component parts of the framework based on comments submitted by survey respondents. A request was sent to members of the peer support community asking for nominations of regional peer support leaders to represent their interests in relation to the project. The selected peer leaders were announced in September 2011.
Fall 2011 – the first peer support leadership meeting took place at a special event held in October sponsored by the Commission. Invitees to the event included organizational leaders and senior decision-makers who shared their thoughts and insights about peer support and improving mental health in the workplace.
December 2011 – Peer Support Accreditation and Certification (Canada) [PSACC] was legally created.
May 2012 – the MHCC publicized a change in orientation for the Peer Project. At this point in time over 300 peer support workers from across Canada had expressed interest in the peer support initiative that began with the Commission in mid-2010.
PSACC was launched as an independent organization, completely separate from the MHCC, to continue the work aimed at accomplishing the following 4 key goals.
- National standards of practice for peer support
- National certification of peer support workers on a voluntary basis
- Evidence-based research data showing the efficacy of peer support
- Accreditation of training programs meeting the knowledge standard requirements
The regional peer support leaders from across Canada remain committed to working with PSACC to achieve these goals.