NYAPRS Note: Great thanks are due to Allen Daniels and his team for providing us with a very timely look at how peer specialists are compensated nationally. Comments can be directed to him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
At the 2015 ACMHA Summit a small group of us began a discussion about the lack of robust information on the wages and compensation for the peer specialist workforce. As often occurs at the College for Behavioral Health Leadership, a new idea was incubated and resulted in a decision to conduct a national survey to determine the prevailing wages for peer specialists.
The principal author (A. Daniels) pledged that if the organizations affiliated with the other authors (Ashenden – International Association of Peer Supporters (iNAPS); Goodale – Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance (DBSA); and Stevens and Rosenthal – New York Association of Psychiatric Rehabilitation Services (NYAPRS) would promote the distribution of the survey, then he would self-fund the study, make the results publically available, and preserve the neutrality of the results. Based on this intent The College for Behavioral Health Leadership became the logical, public domain choice for the publication of this report. The authors also recognize Rebecca Daniels, MSPH, for her contributions to the study and data analytics, and Kris Ericson, PhD, for editorial and publication support.
Two surveys were constructed and included peer support specialists, and organizations that employ them. Over 1,600 individuals responded to the survey and more than 270 organizations also participated. The survey report has been published as an ACMHA white paper and is available at: https://www.acmha.org/acmhanews/news/26.
The findings of this study illustrate diversity among the current national structures for the wages of peer specialists. This includes significant differences in average compensation rates between those who work all different hours ($15.42) and only full-time ($16.36).
There are also different wage rates among the types of organizations (consumer and peer run organizations; community behavioral health organizations; health care provider organizations; inpatient psychiatric facilities; and health plan and managed care organizations) that employ this workforce.
An analysis of the wages of peer specialists in the 10 US Department of Health and Human Services regions also demonstrates geographic differences in compensation rates and compares regional and national averages. Inequities in compensation rates are also noted between male and female peer specialists, with men receiving on average in excess of $2.00 more per hour than women.
The implications for the findings of this study are discussed and include the need for greater attention and focus on the wages of the peer specialist workforce.