Developing Peer Support Worker role in Mental Health


Competence framework and curriculum testing in two settings – supporting people with severe mental health problems (in secondary care) and people with common mental health problems (in primary care and IAPT services)


In partnership with UCLPartners, UCL, the National Collaborating Centre for Mental Health (NCCMH) and local mental health trusts, we are developing and piloting the effectiveness of an evidence-based competence framework and training curriculum for peer support workers, to improve the implementation of this role across the mental health system. 

Mental health problems are common, affect all age groups and are a leading cause of disability. Effective treatments exist but might only be accessed by 25% of young people and 36% of adults with a mental health problem. When accessed, treatment might be suboptimal and, even for people with more severe mental health problems, there may be limited long term support leading to increased use of crisis care and formal admissions.

The NHS Long Term Plan has sought to address this problem and have plans to significantly increase access to mental healthcare, but these plans are undermined by the limited availability of mental health staff within the system. One approach to addressing this problem is the development of the peer support role, where people who have experience of mental health problems provide interventions and support to others with mental health problems.

Peer support workers can, and already do, provide a range of evidence based interventions which include brief (low intensity) psychological interventions for emerging and existing common mental disorders, personal and social support interventions (such as common navigation, befriending or mentoring) across the range of mental health problems, supporting self-management programmes for those with co-existing mental and physical health problems and crisis resolution interventions.

The challenge faced is that there is no standardised training and workplace progression for Peer Support Workers within North East and North Central London and Essex. Employment bands and responsibility can be different in various organisations, with varying remuneration schemes and contract types, a small number of permanent roles and a lack of standardised training. Coupled with limited support for sustainable implementation of the role, it can be difficult to develop permanent roles.

Our Objectives

With our collaborators NCCMH, UCLPartners and PPL, we aim to change this, by piloting a standardised training and supervision model.  The training course is based on the NCCMH competency framework, built with the contribution of PSWs and other experts and will use activities and case studies to develop skills such as communication and engagement, managing own lived experience and early intervention.

Delivered alongside UCLPartners, the course aim is to improve the knowledge and confidence of PSWs and enable them back into the workplace with an improved PSW network and skills to aid their progression.

Who's involved? The key stakeholders

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