Mental Health Peer Health Coaching Initiative – Evaluation

The final report is available to download here

What was this project?

Cards on desk

Collecting views on what outcomes to measure

Camden and Islington NHS Foundation Trust commissioned the McPin Foundation to carry out an independent evaluation of a peer coaching project. The project was co-designed and led by trust staff and people with experience of mental health problems. Patients* who were referred by their GP received up to three sessions of support from a peer coach, who also had experience of mental health problems. The support aimed to help patients identify ways they could improve their physical and mental health. As part of this peer coaches worked with patients to complete a personalised care plan called the ‘Snapshot’, which was then shared with the patient’s GP, to inform healthcare provided. The purpose of our evaluation was to look at the experience of the support from the perspective of patients, peer coaches and GPs, to identify the benefits of the project and how it could be improved if it was recommissioned in the future.


Why was this project important?

Self-care, in which people are encouraged to actively take steps to manage their health conditions, is advocated by the NHS. The role of a peer coach involved working with people to identify their health needs and goals, and the ways they might address these. Given that the patients who took part were not receiving support from specialist mental health services and GPs report that they do not always have the capacity to support people who are experiencing mental health problems, peer coaching holds promise as a form of support within a self-management framework. Our evaluation may inform the development of a larger peer coaching project, or similar programme, in the future.


What did we do?

We met with the project leads to identify which outcomes were important to capture in the evaluation. This was used to develop data collection tools. We also carried out interviews and focus groups with patients, peer coaches and GPs. We also collected data from patients via a survey and analysed the Snapshots, to look at how useful it was and whether it might be improved. A final report was delivered to Camden and Islington NHS Foundation Trust in May 2017, which you can download here.


What were the findings?

Patients, peer coaches and GPs all recognised a need for peer coaching that helped patients struggling with their mental health to access support that met their needs and which GPs did not always feel able to provide. The main benefit for patients was that they could share their experiences with their peer coach and felt listened to and understood, while peer coaches gained confidence and a sense of achievement through performing the role. GPs valued the insights gained about their patients from the Snapshot, which could guide the support they provided. Our suggestions for improvement included clarifying the extent to which different tasks form part of a peer coach’s role and using this to inform the target population and length of support offered.


Who do I contact for more information?

If you would like more information about this project, please get in touch with Johanna Frerichs via or 020 7922 7871 or Dan Robotham on


*We have used the term patients instead of service users in this context because we are referring to people who receive care from their GPs.