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Peer Support Employment Groups Evaluation

What is this study?

This is an evaluation of a Peer Support Employment Groups project, which is led by the mental health charity Mind and funded by the Building Better Opportunities (BBO) National Lottery Community Fund. The aim of this project is to support those with mental health issues furthest away from the labour market into employment or education/training. Mind aims to provide employment support through meetings with an Employment Advisor and access to a peer support group relating to employment.

 

Why is this research important?

Research shows that people with mental health problems seeking employment or training/education opportunities find it increasingly difficult to successfully secure opportunities. Despite the vast number of services offering employment support, the challenges of securing and maintaining successful employment, having experienced a mental health problem, are often overlooked.

The project aims to address this and improve the prospects for people with a mental health problem who would benefit from one-to-one support as well as access to a peer support group.

Peer support is unique in the sense that it is the exchange of support between people who have ‘experiences in common’, and the relationships formed in peer support are based on mutual understanding and equality.

The combination of experiencing unemployment and mental health problems can be isolating and it is hoped that access to peer support employment groups will provide people with the opportunity to network and meet people who share similar experiences.

Previous peer support projects have shown to have a positive impact on people’s mental health and wellbeing and are becoming increasingly popular within the public health sector.  By evaluating these groups, we hope to capture the impact that the groups have on individuals as well as highlight anything that would improve the service further. We hope this will reflect existing literature that highlights the benefits that peer support can have on the wellbeing of those who take part in it.

 

How are McPin involved?

McPin have been commissioned to evaluate the peer support employment groups. Having recently completed and published a national evaluation of the peer support project Side by Side run by Mind, Depression Alliance and Bipolar UK, we hope to build upon our previous knowledge.

People with experience of mental health problems are involved in delivering and completing the evaluation. McPin will support and train peer evaluators within each site.

 

What did we find?

The McPin Foundation was commissioned by Mind to conduct an independent evaluation of the peer support employment groups. Our evaluation describes the project, which operated from January 2017 to March 2020 (with delivery occurring between April 2017 and December 2019).

We used a peer research methodology, whereby some members of the evaluation team were able to use their own experiences of using peer support and of seeking employment whilst experiencing mental health problems.

Please find the results of our evaluation below:

 

 

Where can I find more information?

You can find more information about the Peer Support Employment Groups on the Mind website.

 

You can read about previous evaluations of peer support, Side by Side, by clicking here.

 

If you would like more information, please contact Rajvi Kotecha-Hazzard or Dan Robotham by email: rhazzard@mcpin.org | DanRobotham@McPin.org