State Departments Collaborate To Launch Virtual Job Readiness Series


Trainings focus on Certified Peer Support Workers to help more enter the workforce in recovery programs throughout the state

The New Mexico Human Services Department’s Behavioral Health Services Division is spearheading a collaborative effort to increase the number of Certified Peer Support Workers (CPSWs) working in substance abuse and addiction recovery programs across the state. The New Mexico Office of Peer Recovery and Engagement (OPRE) and the New Mexico Workforce Connection are key partners in the initiative. The second of two virtual sessions will take place September 24-25, after a successful inaugural event that wrapped up last month.

“We are in the midst of a crisis in the state,” said Dr. Neal Bowen, director of Behavioral Health Services Division. “We do not have enough behavioral health providers—especially those who can share lived experiences of substance abuse and mental illness disorders and who can model paths for those in recovery to create meaningful lives for themselves. Evidence shows us that peers have a unique ability to do this, and so these virtual job readiness trainings are a critical component for developing the overall behavioral health workforce.”

Emerging research shows a decline in decreased substance abuse, psychotic symptoms, and hospitalizations as a result of peer support. As New Mexico is facing a shortage of behavioral health workers, this series of trainings have been developed to support greater involvement of CPSWs in the workplace. Currently, nearly 60 percent of New Mexico’s certified peers are unemployed, under-employed, or unemployed.

“The work that our peers do in the recovery process is vital,” said Melisha Montaño, OPRE program manager. “Research supports our experience that peers help individuals cope better with emotional and psychological challenges and help dispel common myths of what it means to have a mental health condition.”

“The evidence points to a real decrease in health care costs when peers are involved in the recovery process,” said secretary Bill McCamley of the New Mexico Department of Workforce Solutions. “Peer-supported systems are effective, empowering, and a natural focus for workforce development initiatives here in New Mexico.”

Participants in the training series will be required to pre-register with the Department of Workforce Connection. Two half-day sessions will cover resumé preparation, interview skills, networking, professional ethics, and include breakout sessions for one-on-one coaching. To learn more, please contact Nathan Lawson, OPRE training coordinator, at