Mental health network

Peer Support Workers: Theory and Practice

04 / 06 / 2013

Peer support is “offering and receiving help,based on shared understanding, respect and mutual empowerment between people
in similar situations”. In this paper we will examine the concepts and principles of peer support and present examples from organisations which now have peers in their workforce.

The ImROC programme has recommended the use of peer workers to drive recovery focused organisational change. ImROC recognises the value of a range of different roles for peers in all types of mental health services. Whether they are paid or voluntary, working in public, private or independent services, peer workers have a valuable role to play.

We have concentrated on the contribution of peers working inside mental health services because of the multiple benefits that they can bring. Working together, ‘co‑producing’ services alongside traditional mental health professionals, they can offer a truly comprehensive and integrated model of care.

We also have to be concerned with maximising ‘value for money’ and we believe that peers – properly selected, trained and supported – can improve the quality of services at no extra cost, possibly even with cost reductions. This would put the voice of those with lived experience truly at the centre of mental health services – which is where it belongs.

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