Mind, Bipolar UK and Depression Alliance were funded by the Big Lottery to develop a programme raising awareness of, and delivering, mental health peer support across nine regions of England and their online peer support platform, Elefriends.
McPin, along with St. George’s, University of London and The London School of Economics, were commissioned to evaluate the programme.
We wanted to understand the principles and values that lie at the heart of peer support, and develop the best way to strengthen and expand the sector based on the evidence we gathered.
You can find out more about the programme on the Mind website.
Peer support is the exchange of support between people who share something in common, creating relationships founded on equality. In mental health, the ‘something in common’ is living with mental health issues.
These reciprocal relationships offer something unique to other types of mental health support, and previous research has suggested they bring multiple benefits to mental and social wellbeing.
Peer support is beginning to gain public recognition across the country, especially within public health, and so it is important to demonstrate what makes these support networks work – and work well – so peer support can continue to be funded and flourish.
We conducted an evaluation of the peer support programme using a variety of methods, including interviews, surveys, observations and consultations with people engaged in peer support.
People with lived experience of mental health issues and peer support informed all stages of the evaluation. We also employed peer researchers to work on the programme. Their perspectives were important to shaping and guiding the research.
The project began in April 2015 and ran until Spring 2017.
We created several resources from the project:
- A short report with initial results
- A two-page summary of the headline findings
- A four-page summary report with more detail
- Our full report which is over 400 pages long
- Our data was also used to produce a toolkit resource for community-based peer support groups
For more information on the project please email [email protected].
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