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Reclaiming user leadership in peer support practice

Elina Stamou (Deputy Director – Peer Support Lead, based at Together for Mental Wellbeing, London, UK)

The Journal of Mental Health Training, Education and Practice

ISSN: 1755-6228

Article publication date: 2 September 2014




The purpose of this paper is to explore user leadership in peer support practice by reviewing existing evidence and models of delivery, investigating the recently developed term of “authentic” peer support and reflecting on challenges and opportunities for the future.


The paper presents and discusses views and evidence on peer support policy and practice, found in the current literature, grass roots peer support experts’ presentations and contributions to conferences, a national peer support network, key policy documents and the work of Together for Mental Wellbeing.


Peer support benefits are widely documented as is its history, rooted in user leadership. More recently, peer support is acknowledged in a number of key mental health policy documents as seen to be key in the response to current quality and cost agendas. There has been a simultaneous increase of “formal” peer support as practiced by large service providers and a gradual shift away from its “user led” origins. Against the background of the current economic climate and implications for mental health services, there seems to be a need to pause and reflect on current peer support practice and rethink the way forward.


This paper's emphasis on the authenticity of peer support covers new ground in relation to an important topical debate.



The author would like to thank Anne Beales and Thurstine Basset for their comments on the first draft of this paper.


Stamou, E. (2014), "Reclaiming user leadership in peer support practice", The Journal of Mental Health Training, Education and Practice, Vol. 9 No. 3, pp. 167-176.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2014, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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