Peer support workers in mental health: Is the NHS ready for this?

Mar 18 2015

In a previous blog “no support for peer support”, I reported on a systematic review of the effectiveness of peer support in mental health. The conclusion of this review was that despite the fact that peer support is a popular idea, valued by service users and carers, as well as organisations, the evidence that it can positively influence service user outcomes (ABOVE AND BEYOND USUAL CARE) is open to interpretation and certainly not clear-cut.

I also drew attention to the issue that peer support is a global term, rather than a specific role or intervention. This lack of a coherent definition, or theoretical understanding of the effectiveness or not of peer support (what the mechanisms and ingredients are that contribute to effectiveness) mean that it is impossible to pool studies together and say definitively that this is a clinically effective intervention that improves outcomes above and beyond what is currently being provided by routine care.

In light of this lack of evidence-base for peer support, Steve Gillard and colleagues undertook a national study of models of peer support in order to understand what is known about peer support delivery in mental health services from a range of perspectives.

I know the article is about the UK but what do people think about peer support? Have you been helped by a peer support worker?

Had a peer support worker. But he only had experience of depression. Our experiences where too far apart to be much used to one and other.

@Jimbob That shows the importance of the pairing up process .

When the organiser came to my house to set the wheels in motion I respectfully asked if I could be paired with someone who had experience of antipsychotics. She looked shocked and said that that would be a breech of confidentiality regarding her peer support workers. At least I think that was what she said. Basically she said she didn’t know the diagnoses of her workers and she seemed a bit pissed off by my request.

As a result I got a peer support worker who had very little in common with me. Didn’t last long and was a waste of time and money.

I absolutely loved my peer support person. She is why I am becoming a peer support specialist. My hope is that I can be an inspiration to my peers.

I’m all for peer support. We get it here on this site. This sort of worked in my Recovery International meetings.

Me too would love to in my spare time