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Have you ever wondered, “What is family peer support?”

Beth Hess - Monday, May 22, 2017

“Family peer support” is at the heart of much of MCF’s work with families. Did you know it’s a model followed by many organizations across the country? Early research suggests that family peer support offers a host of benefits to parents and caregivers seeking help for a child with behavioral health needs, including mental health and substance use challenges.

What is family peer support? How does it help families?
  • Parents and caregivers trying to identify and access appropriate services for their child may find child-serving systems (e.g., mental health, education, juvenile justice, child welfare, substance use treatment) complicated and overwhelming. Family peer support can help parents/caregivers navigate systems more effectively, learn from the experiences of other families, feel less alone, and gain hope, ideas and information.
  • Peer support is offered through face-to-¬face support groups, phone calls and individual meetings. 
  • National researchers have found that family peer support: offers hope, guidance, advocacy, and camaraderie for parents and caregivers of children and youth receiving services from mental health, substance use, and related service systems. 
  • Early research suggests that peer support offers parents and other caregivers:

Graphic provided by a publication of the Center for Social Innovation.

At MCF and organizations across the country, “Family Peer Support” is provided by a parent or caregiver who has cared for a child with mental health, substance use and/or other behavioral health challenges and has been trained to help other families. This support is available at no cost to families across the state. 

Learn more about family peer support services at MCF or connect with a staff member in your community

As the value of family peer support gains recognition, leaders in Maryland are exploring opportunities to both formally recognize it through certification and broaden its reach to ensure others in the family—in addition to parents and caregivers—can experience the benefits of family peer support. MCF is active within these conversations and looks forward to continuing to empower families through peer support. 

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