scroll to the top of page

Peer Support Academies

Supporting Mental and Emotional Wellness in Blount, Knox, and Sevier Counties

What is Recovery?

Recovery is an ongoing personal journey toward an improved life based on practical coping techniques. At Peninsula’s Peer Support Academies, members learn how to change the way they react to the people and situations over which they have no control. They learn to identify and manage negative thoughts, feelings, beliefs, and behaviors that can lead to emotional distress and stress-related physical symptoms. And they engage in a supportive community who are very active socially. Statistics show one in four adults in East Tennessee suffer from some type of mental health condition.

About the Peer Support Academy Program

Peninsula’s Peer Support Academies are peer support centers offering support for hundreds of individuals in Blount, Knox and Sevier counties.

Men and women age 18 and older who have a mental illness are eligible to apply to participate in the program. Peer Support Academies supplement members’ mental health services by providing socialization opportunities, as well as education and support groups to enhance wellness. The academies are staffed by peer support specialists, certified by the State of Tennessee, who have completed an 80-hour training program.

Peer support specialists are trained to use their own experiences with mental illness and recovery to share hope and wellness with others. Transportation may be provided if available and if within the range of our centers.  Snacks are offered. All services are free because the program operates on a grant from the state.

What to Expect at Peninsula’s Peer Support Academies

A primary focus of the Peer Support Academy programs is teaching members the skills necessary to improve their lives and maintain wellness. We do this in classes or small support groups. Each student will have the choice to develop his or her own Wellness Recovery Action Plan™ (WRAP), which is a system that strengthens recovery by identifying how to maintain wellness and deal with potential problems by using tools to formulate personal crisis management plans to achieve and maintain wellness.

Other classes may include life skills, diet and nutrition, grief and loss, and anger management. An equally important aspect of the center is the opportunity for healthy socializing. Peer Support Academy members have the chance to enjoy a wide variety of recreational activities in the community with their peers, such as: bowling, movies, picnics, museums, area attractions and dances and parties with other peer support centers in the region.


Peer Support Academy – Blount
203 Corporate Place, Ste. 101
Alcoa, TN 37701
Contact: Shay (865) 373-8210 or Stan (865)373-8207
Blount Group Outings & Support Group Calendar

Peer Support Academy – Knox
1451 Dowell Springs Blvd.
Knoxville, TN 37909
Contact:  Jill or Sheryl (865) 374-7148
Knox Group Outings & Support Group Calendar

Peer Support Academy – Sevier
509 High Street
Sevierville, TN 37862
Contact: Velvet (865) 774-7559

 Sevier Group Outings & Support Group Calendar

*Calendars are subject to change. Please call the program you want to attend.

How to Find Us

Locate the center nearest you and call the contact  number. 

If staff does not answer, leave a message with your name and a phone number where you can be reached. Your call will be returned.

Depending on your location, staff may arrange for you to be picked up, or you may provide your own transportation.

The Academies are supported through a grant from the State of Tennessee, so there is no charge for this program or for transportation if provided.

You are not required to come every day the center is open, but you are welcome to come when you choose.

How You Can Help

Peninsula is seeking community members to serve on our advisory boards. Advisory board members recommend center improvements and help advocate for the rights of individuals with mental illness. If you would like to learn more about our advisory boards in Knox, Blount or Sevier counties, please contact Sheryl McCormick at (865) 374-7103.