Family Support vs. Peer Support

Family support and peer support are two types of services. Both offer hope, guidance, and support. They have some similarities but are different. 

Family Support 

Family support is focused on family members. It is support offered by a person with their own lived experience caring for a child, youth or adult with physical health, mental health, or substance use needs. A Family Support works with families to build skills to help support their loved one.

Family Support can include:

  • Connection to formal supports, such as respite care. 
  • Informal supports, such as parent-to-parent support groups.
  • Sharing community resources, such as food or clothing.
  • Supporting a family member with their own self-care/wellbeing.

Benefits of Family Support for a parent, guardian and/or family member can include:

  • Increased strength and resilience. 
  • Connections with other families who have had similar experiences.
  • Referrals to resources & support services.
  • Opportunities to advocate & improve the service system.

Peer Support 

Peer support is focused on an individual. It is support that covers a range of physical health, mental health, or substance use services. It is offered to an individual by a certified peer support specialist who shares similar lived experiences with mental health, substance use, or both. 

Peer Support can include:

  • Sharing resources for recovery.
  • Advocacy.
  • Mentoring-individual and/or group. 
  • Goal setting.

Benefits of Peer Support for an individual can include:

  • Increased strength and resilience. 
  • Improved quality of health/life. 
  • Increased self-esteem.
  • Creating social connections/community.

All AHCCCS (Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System) members have the right to request peer support and family support services. This could be at a peer or family-run organization (PFRO). Follow the links below for more information:


Learn more about family and peer support services from Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) and Mental Health America (MHA):