Documenting a Decade of Exponential Growth in Employer Demand for Peer Support Providers

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date



The journal of behavioral health services & research




The past decade has seen peer support providers increasingly incorporated as part of a recovery-oriented approach to behavioral health (BH) services for mental illness and substance use disorder. Despite this, there are few data sources to track this sector of the BH workforce, and understanding of peer support provider supply, demand, distribution, and associated factors is limited. In this retrospective, observational study, the authors analyzed job postings from 2010 to 2020 to assess employer demand for peer support providers and the factors associated with its growth, using a labor market data set from Emsi Burning Glass. The authors identified peer support job postings using a three-pronged, stepwise approach. Then, bivariate regression analyses using robust standard errors were conducted to examine state-level relationships between the number of peer support job postings per 100,000 population and Medicaid policies and indicators of states' BH infrastructure. The authors identified approximately 35,000 unique postings, finding the number increased 17-fold between 2010 and 2020. Bivariate analysis found significant state-level associations between peer support job postings and Medicaid expansion, as well as states' mean number of mental health facilities. This analysis represents the first to quantify employer demand for peer support providers, clearly demonstrating robust growth over time. Findings underscore the importance of continuing to develop data on this workforce to better understand factors driving its growth.


Health Policy and Management