Office of Consumer & Family Affairs

Information about the Office of Consumer & Family Affairs (OCFA), which provides information, education and support for children and youth, families, adults and older adults who are dealing with the challenges of mental illness

The OCFA Goal

To facilitate consumer and family input into all aspects of the state-funded mental health system as well as the Bureau of Mental Health Services program planning and policy development. Consumer and family experience is invaluable in the identification of mental health care needs, planning and program development. Consumers and families can tell us what is working for them - and what isn't. Their window on reality will guide and ensure the quality of the services that we deliver. By recruiting, organizing and empowering consumers and families, the OCFA seeks to support them in establishing and maintaining strong input and mental health leadership on a local, regional, state and national level. Leadership and empowerment are gained through information and education – learning the skills to take charge of our own futures – to be active participants in our own treatment planning – to work together toward improving the mental health system. A first step is to be able to access informational resources.


The History of OCFA

Established in 1990 as the Office of Consumer Affairs (OCA), it was one of the first two such offices in the country. There are now offices in over thirty-seven states. The office was re-established in December 2007 as the Office of Consumer & Family Affairs.

OCFA meets with consumer groups, visits peer support and community mental health centers, and listens to families.

OCFA also works closely with:

  • NH Mental Health Planning and Advisory Council
  • NH Peer Voice
  • NH Coalition on Substance Abuse, Mental Health and Aging
  • National Alliance for Mental Illness-NH
  • NH Mental Health Peer Alliance


The OCFA Newsletter  

Published quarterly, the OCFA newsletter features articles and information of interest to service users, their family members and supports. Contact OCFA to be added to our newsletter mailing list.


Peer Support Certification Program Requirements

Note: This information was issued March 26, 2024. The Peer Support Specialist Certificate Program Requirements can also be read in PDF format. See the documents library below.

In an effort to improve access, availability and opportunities for peer training, the department has launched a new Peer Support Specialist certificate program. 


Due to challenges securing trainers for components of NH’s peer training/certification model, the department was unable to offer sufficient training needed to certify mental health peers. Therefore, through an initiative led by Dartmouth Health in partnership with multi-sector stakeholders, including the CMHCs (specifically staff from NHS, LRMHC, MHCGM, and WCBH) and Peer Support Agencies, the Peer Support Specialist certification curriculum and requirements have been redesigned.

Starting in January, 2024 a new Peer Support Specialist certificate program was offered through the community college network via a cooperative project agreement with the department. The first cohort was offered to peers already working in the field in need of certification. 24 peers enrolled in the first cohort that will conclude in March 2024. An additional six (6) cohorts will be offered through March 2025 at no cost to peers.

Certificate Program Overview:

The new Peer Support Specialist certificate program is designed to prepare students to enter a peer support role in the mental health workforce. The curriculum aligns with the National Model Standards for Peer Support Certification and Core Competencies for Peer Workers in Behavioral Health Services as released by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).

The certificate program is delivered virtually via asynchronous and live-online teaching. Students complete weekly online learning modules and participate in weekly interactive virtual meetings for co-reflection, guided practice, role playing, and discussion of complex topics between current students and experienced peers. Students must attend all nine (9) weekly virtual meetings to receive full certification.

The 40–46-hour certificate program is comprised of nine (9) course modules which are taught over a ten (10) week period.The modules include:

  1. Roles and Settings;
  2. Behavioral Health Recovery;
  3. Person-Centered Support;
  4. Recovery Planning;
  5. Sharing Lived Experience;
  6. Crisis and Crisis Support;
  7. Suicide Prevention;
  8. Ethics and Boundaries; and
  9. Co-occurring Substance Misuse.

Each certificate program cohort is limited to a maximum of 24 students with priority given to NH residents. The certificate program is currently being offered on a pilot basis through the NH Community College system with the expectation of expanding in future years.

What does this mean for the peers that work at my center?

For peers who are already certified, they will not be required to complete additional certification requirements. Ongoing professional development is required according to employer contract requirements and He-M 402and He-M 426. Current CPSSs may attend the NH Peer Community of Practice once it is available. This is encouraged however it is not required to maintain state certification.

For peers seeking NH Peer Support Specialist Certification – they must:

1. Enroll and successfully complete the Peer Support Specialist certificate program offered through the NH Community College system within 1 year of employment. This curriculum replaces the previous training requirements and certification exam for a Certified Peer Support Specialist (CPSS). Students must complete all 9 modules and attend all weekly virtual course meetings, as referenced above, to obtain full certification. The community college will notify the Department of all peers who pass the certification course at the end of each cohort.

2. Peers will receive their official Peer Support Specialist Certification status from the Department upon successful completion of the course.

3. Ongoing professional development is required according to employer contract requirements and He-M 402 and He-M 426.


The Department is implementing a NH Peer Community of Practice (COP) through a contracted vendor. The COP will be open to all peer specialists and peer supervisors statewide and occur on a monthly basis. Meeting topics and presentations will focus on peer best practices and will be different each month to promote learning, collaboration and professional development. The Department anticipates the COP to launch in May 2024!

Intentional Peer Support (IPS) co-reflection

IPS is not a required training component of the new Peer Support Specialist certificate program.

However, some peers may wish to maintain their IPS certification. In order to maintain IPS certification, the national requirement of a minimum of 1.5 hours per quarter of co-reflection will need to be met. Co-reflection is available through IPS Central Co-reflection.

Please contact the Bureau of Mental Health Services, Office of Consumer and Family Affairs with questions:

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