Course Content
This session will introduce students to the course and through the use of exercises promote general discussion encouraging the students to begin to get to know each other. The session will cover confidentiality, participation, commitment and a general overview of the course. 
What is Recovery?
The aim of this session is to explore the development of the recovery approach in mental health and to examine key concepts in recovery and a range of factors that support recovery.
Personal Recovery
The aim of this session is to explore personal experience of mental health problems and recovery and consider how the key concepts and factors supporting recovery (covered in session 2) have impacted on your own story of recovery.
What is Peer Support?
Now that we have been introduced to recovery characteristics and developed an understanding of the things that can help and hinder that process, we are going to consider the role the role of peer support in more detail. Firstly, we will examine what we mean by a peer and we will then go on to consider the relationship between peer support and recovery.
The Peer Relationship
In this session we will examine in more detail the processes and practices of establishing peer relationships. We will build on our earlier learning about the role of mutuality and empowerment in peer relationships. There will be a focus on issues of power, choice and control in peer relationships.
Review and Evaluation
The aim of this session is to give candidates the opportunity to reflect on learning to date; provide support and feedback on the assessment task and to review the content to date. The first assessment task is a written assignment in essay format where students consider their personal recovery story in relation to the recovery approach and the role of peer support.
Use of Language and Communications
As peer supporters, the language we use and how we communicate are key to building good connections with the people we are supporting. This session will focus on how we use the language of recovery and our wider communication skills in the peer relationship. The language of recovery is designed to bring out the strengths and abilities of those in recovery. The aim of this session is to introduce candidates to elements of effective communication, including verbal and non-verbal communication, active listening and the use of recovery language, and to enable them to use these to foster an effective peer support relationship.
Using Your Experiences Effectively
One of the most effective ways to explain recovery to others is by people sharing their experiences. It brings to life the reality of recovery. This session builds on previous learning to enable peer supporters to develop their skills and experience in sharing their experiences in ways that are helpful. This sharing is often described as intentional.
Surviving and Thriving
The aim of this session is to look at approaches to working with people which focus on their strengths and capabilities and on building resilience. This will include examining the ways in which strengths based approach might validate and reframe experience and how it uses role modelling and hope to help individuals build resilience. Strengths based approaches are at the heart of peer support practice.
Positive Risk Taking and Boundaries
The aim of this session is to examine the implications of formalised peer support, encouraging students to examine the related concepts of boundaries, role tension and working with risk. The session will introduce the concept of positive risk taking and the approaches that can be used to help in this process. This will include examining the balance between risk and responsibility in the peer relationship. As part of this, students will deal with the difficult topics of trauma, suicidality and risk.
Review and Evaluation
The aim of this session is to give candidates time to review and evaluate the course and their experience of it, and to finish off any outstanding work. it is an opportunity to reflect on learning, discuss experiences and discuss the final assignment.
Useful Resources
Peer Support Training
About Lesson

Useful Resources


Developing peer support in the community: a toolkit – Mind


This toolkit is for people interested in mental health peer support happening in the community. This includes people who are:


  • supporting and being supported through peer support
  • setting up and running a peer support group or project
  • involved in commissioning peer support projects.


It will be particularly useful for people who want to establish a new peer support project.


Peer Support Hub


National Voices has a Peer Support Hub an online bank of high quality resources for people looking to measure, evaluate, sustain and grow different types of peer support.


Community Capacity and Peer Support Guide


The Community capacity and peer support guide includes a common framework for developing formal and informal peer support options and how to put them into practice.


Realising the Value


More information about the successful implementation of peer support, can be found in the Realising the Value Programme, which was commissioned by NHS England.


Peer Support as a Career


Supporting people in a professional capacity allows for skills to be further developed with training, while gaining valuable experience in a guided environment. As a paid peer support worker, you will join the other members of someone’s care team to help support their wellbeing and providing inspiration and support for their recovery. The following information is from the NHS Health Careers website. 


What Will I Do?


The role that peer support workers fulfil will depend on the type of service you are based in, but could include:

  • working one to one with service users or patients
  • helping to support individuals to develop goals
  • supporting people in care planning
  • helping people engage with activities
  • supporting group work
  • helping support people develop recovery plans


Where will I work?


You will work in both informal and formal settings. Informal settings could be in local drop-in groups and cafes for example, or you could work with third sector organisations and charities.Formal settings can include community, crisis, inpatient, criminal justice and recovery services.


Who will I work with?


You will work with a range of people who are living with mental health problems, either in hospital or in the community.


They will all be different, but what will connect you with them is your understanding of living with mental health problems yourself. You will also work with other members of a team, for example nurses, social workers, therapists and doctors. In some services, you may also work alongside people’s carers, families and friends.


Entry requirements


The key element to being a peer support worker is having relevant lived experience for the service you wish to work in, wanting to support others going through similar experiences, and being able to receive training on how to work with people to do this.


What’s very important is that you’re in a good position to be able to use your lived experience and share this as appropriate in a positive way. You will also need good communication skills – both written and verbal – in your work with patients and service users.


Skills and personal characteristics needed


  • open, honest and friendly
  • good communication skills or willingness to develop these
  • ability to use lived experience in a positive and appropriate way
  • awareness of own personal recovery journey
  • willingness to work as part of a team
Exercise Files
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