Peer Specialist Mental Health Certificate

  • Program Overview

    In 2010, Richmond Area Multi-Services, Inc. and San Francisco State University jointly developed the Peer Specialist Mental Health Certificate Program, funded by the Mental Health Services Act (Prop 63). The Peer Specialist Mental Health Certificate Program initially offered one 12-week training course, now known as the Peer Specialist Mental Health Certificate Entry Course. The primary goal of the Entry Course is to prepare individuals and family members who have lived experience with behavioral health services for entry-level peer provider roles. The Peer Specialist Mental Health Certificate Entry Course has successfully completed 18 Cohorts, and has over 275 graduates of the course. RAMS offers its 12-week Peer Specialist Mental Health Certificate Entry Course two times annually, in the fall and in the spring.

    In 2016, the Program expanded to include the 8-week Peer Specialist Mental Health Certificate Advanced Course which provides additional training, education, and workforce development opportunities to individuals who are currently providing peer services and/or advocacy in the community and would like to obtain additional enrichment and training in the field. RAMS offers the PSMHC Advanced Course two times annually, in the winter and in the summer.

    In addition to these courses, RAMS also coordinates the Leadership Academy, a free monthly training series open to all Bay Area residents, designed to support and educate peers providers working or interested in working in the behavioral health field. Leadership Academy is offered on the last Friday of every month and lengths of trainings vary by topic.

    Please review the Program Calendar, Leadership Academy, Applications, and FAQ pages for additional information.

    For any remaining questions regarding the Peer Specialist Mental Health Certificate Entry Course, Advanced Course, or Leadership Academy, please e-mail

  • Program Calendar

    Application and Course Dates

    Please note that dates may need to be changed due to unforeseen circumstances. For the most updated course announcements and application releases, please sign up for our email list by contacting 

  • Leadership Academy

    The RAMS Leadership Academy is a monthly training series designed to support and educate peers providers working in the behavioral health field. These events are designed to provide training on a variety of topics, such as: group facilitation, boundaries, trauma-informed care, and motivational interviewing, among others. The workshops will also help build skills for participation in a variety of activities that request peer provider input, including: advisory committees and boards, review panels, and other advocacy efforts. These interactive trainings are held in the community and are open to all peer providers and counselors in the Bay Area.

    Leadership Academy trainings are always held on the fourth Friday of the month. To receive the monthly announcements and RSVP information, please contact to be placed on the email list.

  • Applications

    Applications for the Peer Specialist Mental Health Certificate Program are currently CLOSED.
    Please contact with any additional questions or to get on the email list for future application releases.
  • Frequently Asked Questions

    When is the next Entry/Advanced Course? 

    Entry and Advanced Course dates, including application releases and due dates, are published as soon as they are finalized by the program and can be found on the “Program Calendar” page. If applications are open they can be found on the “Applications” page. 

    What’s the difference between the entry and advanced course? Do I have to do the Entry Course first to apply for the Advanced Course?

    The entry course is designed for people who are new to the field of peer counseling and introduces them to the basic principles and subjects of the field. The advanced course is designed as continuing education for people who are already working/volunteering as peer providers or in mental health settings. However, some people with many years of work in the field have also taken the entry course and said that they benefited from the formal training, so it is a matter of individual preference. You are not required to graduate the Entry Course in order to apply for the Advanced Course. 

    Do I have to have a San Francisco address to get into the courses?

    Currently, the program must prioritize individuals with San Francisco addresses. However, if there are spots available after we have selected all fitting San Francisco applicants, we may consider other highly eligible applicants, especially if their work contributes to the San Francisco community.

    Is there a fee for the course?

    No, the course is free of charge and all materials are provided. The Entry Course also covers the cost of 3 San Francisco State University academic units per student. 

    Is there a stipend for the course?

    RAMS has been fortunate to be able to provide stipends to program graduates since the inception of the program in 2010. We expect to be able to continue this unless there is significant budget changes. If you are accepted into the program, please inquire from the Program Coordinator/Manager about stipend availability and amount.

    Will I be able to get certified as a peer provider in California using your program? 

    Currently there is no official process for getting licensed and/or certified as a peer provider in the state of California, but there is some advocacy to get a bill passed. We tailor our Entry Course as much as possible to the learning objectives put forth in the state certification bill as it develops. 

    I already applied once; do I need to send you another copy of my transcript/address verification or do you have it on file?

    It is highly recommended that you submit ALL necessary documents with each application cycle to ensure that your application packet is complete. We are unable to guarantee that we will have a copy of your transcript or address verification available from previous application cycles. To support this process, please ensure you keep a copy of your application for your records.

    I’m having a hard time getting my transcript. Can you help?

    If you are struggling because your place of graduation is unreachable or you graduated many years ago, please put a note in your application on the Application Checklist (page 3) and we will follow up with you if needed. If the above conditions apply to you, you may submit your application without the transcript. 

    Can I apply for the courses if I do not have a high school degree or GED?

    Because our program is a partnership with SFSU, students are required to have at minimum graduated high school or earned their GED.  

    How many classes can I miss and still graduate?

    In order to get the most out of the course and ensure that you are in alignment with RAMS and SFSU requirements, you may not miss more than 2 classes.

    Why didn’t I get accepted into the course?

    Due to the volume of applications we receive, the selection committee is not able to provide individualized feedback on acceptance decisions. We encourage people to re-apply in the future, attend the Open House and Application Help Workshop, and register for Leadership Academy trainings so that you stay connected to the field. 

    I graduated from the Entry/Advanced Course but it was a long time ago. Can I apply to take it again? 

    The selection committee will consider applications from individuals who took the course 4 or more years ago. However, highly eligible individuals who have not taken the course(s) yet will be given priority. 

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