Peer Specialist

Behavioral Health Middletown, New York


Location:  Middletown, NY

 OnTrackNY is an innovative treatment program that serves adolescents and young adults with psychosis. The Peer Specialist will work as part of the OnTrackNY team with program participants, family and community members, and all other team members. The Peer Specialist serves a unique role on the team, instilling hope in participants and families by drawing on their own lived experience of overcoming challenges with a psychiatric label. Walking alongside participants on their recovery journeys, the Peer Specialist uses a non-clinical approach to support, empower, and advocate for young people as they contend with the difficulties and uncertainties of early psychosis.

The Peer Specialist uses their lived experience and unique perspective to contribute to treatment planning for each participant, remaining youth-driven and facilitating the team’s development and maintenance of a culture of respect and shared decision making. The Peer Specialist can provide an essential framework for highlighting the potential that each participant has for achieving a successful recovery trajectory.

In addition to attending team meetings, Peer Specialists work directly with other team members to provide support and assistance to program participants. Under the supervision of the OnTrackNY Team Leader, they provide direct peer support services to program participants in any setting that would be helpful – at the OnTrackNY program site, in the community, or in the hospital.


 Within the OnTrackNY team, the Peer Specialist’s work is guided by 12 role responsibilities in their interactions with participants, families, community members and their team:

  • Outreach & Engagement: Connecting with both the community and participants and families about OnTrackNY and offering hope and support around the possibility of recovery
  • Relationship Building: Forming meaningful partnerships with program participants
  • Embracing Creative Narratives: Expanding the understandings of the experience of “First Episode Psychosis”
  • Co-Creating Tools for Success: Partnering with participants and families to support development and creation of self-care and self-awareness tools
  • Supporting and Partnering with Families: Working closely with a participant’s family of choice
  • Making OnTrackNY Better: Supporting the growth and development of OnTrackNY through creation and support of a feedback loop between participants and the team.
  • Bridge Building: Connecting participants and their families to needed community-based supports
  • Group Facilitation: Creating spaces and opportunities for participants to learn together and support one another
  • Community Mapping: Learning about and connecting to community-based supports and resources
  • Influencing Team Culture: Utilizing lived experience and non-clinical approach to support the understandings of team members
  • Team Communication & Collaboration: Working as an essential member of a multi-disciplinary team, documenting their interactions collaboratively and communicating back to the team.
  • Ongoing Professional Development: Continuing to develop and hone skills to support this work


  • It is preferable that the individual’s lived experience of mental health challenges include experience with psychosis during his or her youth.
  • If not a young adult, then the Peer Specialist should have an understanding of youth culture and a respect for the self determination of young people.
  • Preferably, a member of the local community, and if not then having an awareness and understanding of the culture of the area.
  • The Peer Specialist should be someone who has engaged in the meaning making process for themselves.
  • Demonstrated interpersonal communications skills and the ability to empathize with, relate to, and effectively work with participants of mental health services.
  • Active participation in mental health self-help activities, peer support, peer advocacy programs, participant-run organizations, or similar experiences.
  • Ability/ willingness to disclose about their experiences of mental health services for the purposes of empowerment.
  • Willingness to work outside of office setting, in the community and homes of participants
  • Excellent judgment and ability to understand boundaries when working with participants of mental health services.


  • NYS certification as a Peer Specialist or an ability to obtain certification within one year of hire


  • May be subjected to long-periods of sitting or standing