Peer Wellness

Peer Wellness 2017-10-04T21:01:14+00:00

Cascadia Behavioral Healthcare’s Peer Wellness Services are composed of individuals who have lived experiences with mental health and/or substance abuse challenges. Each Peer Wellness Specialist (PWS) goes through an intensive state-approved training program that teaches them to use their lived experience to provide advocacy and support for other individuals with similar challenges. PWS services promote engagement in therapeutic and wellness activities, both of which helps participants reach their goals.

Since PWSs have lived experience, they are living proof that it is possible for people to recover from mental health and/or substance abuse challenges. PWSs help participants navigate the complex health care system, and offer support and mentoring as they access services for mental health, substance use and/or homelessness issues.

Cascadia Behavioral Healthcare’s Peer Wellness Training Program

Do you have lived experience with mental health and/or substance issues and want to help others by becoming a peer wellness or peer support specialist?

Ideal candidates self-identify that they have received or are receiving psychiatric services. Ideal candidates also have a personal understanding of mental-health recovery, a desire to help others and are committed to their own wellness and self-care.

After completing the application process and are accepted into the program, candidates enter an intensive Oregon Health Authority approved training program at Portland State University. In this training program, they receive ethics and boundaries training and develop mentoring, peer counseling and individual and group wellness activity skills.

By training people who have lived through mental-health challenges and have learned to cultivate their own well-being, they in turn support their peers in making healthy lifestyle choices. Peer Wellness Specialists help clients address lifestyle and risk factors before they reach a crisis stage.

There are two different Peer Wellness Support Training Programs. Peer support specialist trainees commit to 60 hours of training for each college term:

  • Peer Support Specialist 1 /PWS 1

  • Peer Wellness Specialist 2 / PWS2 (advanced course, must have completed PWS1)

This training program has been approved by the Oregon Health Authority to provide certification training for traditional health workers.

For more information about Oregon’s Traditional Health Worker training and certification program, visit the website.

Peer Wellness Online Application

For a fillable Peer Wellness Services PDF Application, click here.

If you are interested in becoming a PWS, or have any questions about the program, contact our Peer Wellness Division, 503-238-0769 or email at

Seeking Peer Wellness Services

  • To receive support from a PWS, interested Cascadia clients should discuss it with their case manager.
  • If not a Cascadia client, please contact our Call Cascadia Access, Information & Referral (CAIR) at 503-674-7777 (Monday – Friday, 9am to 5pm)

“When I was diagnosed with schizophrenia at 19, everyone pretty much wrote me off. I made repeated suicide attempts. I eventually learned to see myself as a human, not a psychiatric diagnosis. I now work in Peer Wellness at Cascadia, helping people transform their lives.It’s a powerful lesson that no one’s life is hopeless!”

—Meghan Caughey, Peer and Wellness Services, Senior Director