Oakland County’s public mental health system welcomes Youth Peer Support Services

Oakland County is one of only four communities in Michigan currently offering Youth Peer Support services through the public mental health system. Joshaunna Belkiewicz and Jalen Mims are employed by Easter Seals Michigan (ESM) and Sadye Belcher and Amanda Miller work for Oakland Family Services (OFS) as Youth Peer Support Specialists (YPSS).

“It is a privilege to recognize these impressive young adults as Oakland County public mental health team members,” says Oakland County Community Mental Health Authority (OCCMHA) Executive Director and CEO, Willie Brooks. “Their willingness to use their lived experiences as recipients of mental health services to support other young people in similar circumstances is both admirable and inspirational.”

Michigan’s Youth Peer Support Project is a statewide initiative in partnership with the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDDHS). The program provides Medicaid reimbursable Youth Peer Support to eligible minors as a part of Michigan’s Early Periodic Screening Diagnosis and Treatment State Plan.

“Every family will be touched by disabilities, including — perhaps affecting their child, their neighbor’s child or their parents. Every family — yours and ours — may turn for help some day. As we continue to evolve to meet the changing needs of the community adding Youth Peer Support Specialists certainly enhances our ability to better offer meaningful services to those in need,” said Brent Wirth, president and CEO of ESM. “We have implemented similar initiatives with other demographics and this addition will benefit the many children and families that turn to us for support.”

Youth Peer Services assist young people with Serious Emotional Disturbance (SED) achieve goals, including: resolving conflicts; integration into the community, school, and family; achieving successful independent living options; obtaining employment; transitioning into adulthood; and navigating the public mental health system. 


“Because we work with so many adolescents in our Specialized Services for Youth program the position of a Youth Peer Support Specialist is essential to providing comprehensive services,” said Jaimie Clayton, president and CEO of OFS. “Our Youth Peer Support Specialists are invaluable members of the treatment team and someone with whom the youth we serve can easily relate. We are excited to be able to work with these young people who have already demonstrated their resiliency in dealing with early life challenges.”
The Association for Children’s Mental Health (ACMH) is the statewide coordinator and training partner for the project, providing initial training and ongoing coaching, supervision, support, and technical assistance.

Youth Peer Support Specialists also receive regular supervision by a child mental health professional and participate as an active member of the treatment team. Qualifications for this important service delivery position include:

  • Must be between 18 and 26-years-old.
  • Able to self- identify as a person who has or is receiving public behavioral health services
    and is prepared to use that experience to help others.
  • Experience receiving services as a youth in complex, child serving systems (behavioral
    health, child welfare, juvenile justice, special education, etc.)
  • Employed by a Michigan Prepaid Inpatient Health Plan (PIHP), Community Mental
    Health Services Program (CMHSP), or one of their contract providers.
  • Trained in the MDHHS approved curriculum and ongoing training model.
For more information about Oakland County’s Youth Peer Support program, contact OCCMHA Customer Services at (800) 341-2003. 

Oakland County Community Mental Health Authority is the public mental health system responsible for identifying, influencing, and delivering services and supports to approximately 25,000 Oakland County residents, including individuals with intellectual/developmental disabilities, adults with mental illness, children with serious emotional disturbance, and persons with substance use disorders. Most of these individuals have Medicaid.

OCCMHA’s current network of service providers include: Common Ground, Community Housing Network, Community Living Services, Community Network Services, Easter Seals Michigan, Macomb-Oakland Regional Center, Oakland Family Services, Inc., and Training and Treatment Innovations. A complete list of substance use service providers is available on OCCMHA’s website. For more information about OCCMHA call (800) 341-2003 or visit www.occmha.org


About ESM
Easter Seals Michigan provides services to help children and adults with disabilities and/or special needs as well as support to their families. They’ve been helping families in Michigan since 1920. Today, Easter Seals Michigan assists more than 10,000 individuals and their families annually at various service locations around the state and in communities state-wide. They provide top- quality, innovative services tailored to meet the specific needs of people served.

About OFS

Oakland Family Services is a private, nonprofit 501 (c) (3) serving the community since 1921 and dedicated to providing individuals and families the opportunity to build brighter futures. The agency’s prevention, education and treatment services touch the lives of more than 30,000 individuals throughout southeastern Michigan every year. The agency has offices in Pontiac,
Berkley, Rochester Hills and Walled Lake. For more information visit www.oaklandfamilyservices.org