Utilization of peers in services for youth with emotional and behavioral challenges: A scoping review

Geetha Gopalan, Sang Jung Lee, Ryan Harris, Mary C. Acri, Michelle R. Munson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This scoping review synthesizes published and unpublished information on Youth Peer Support Services (YPSS), where young adults with current or prior mental health challenges provide support services to other youth and young adults currently struggling with similar difficulties. Existing published and unpublished “grey” literature were reviewed, yielding 30 programs included for data extraction and qualitative syntheses using a descriptive analytic framework. Findings identify variations in service delivery structures, program goals, host service systems, peer roles, core competencies, training and supervision needs, outcomes for youth and young adult consumers, as well as organizational readiness needs to integrate YPSS. Recommendations for future research, practice, and policy include more studies evaluating the unique impact of YPSS using rigorous methodological study designs, identifying developmentally appropriate training/supervision strategies and overall service costs and financing options, as well as distinguishing YPSS from other peer models with regard to certification and billing.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)88-115
Number of pages28
JournalJournal of Adolescence
StatePublished - Feb 1 2017


  • Emotional and/or behavioral difficulties
  • Mental health
  • Youth peer advocate
  • Youth peer support

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Social Psychology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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