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Peer support in mental health: where are we today?

Simon Lawton-Smith (Mental Health Foundation, London, UK)

The Journal of Mental Health Training, Education and Practice

ISSN: 1755-6228

Article publication date: 16 September 2013




This paper aims to provide a summary of where peer support currently sits in the UK mental health services policy and practice. It presents an overview of models of peer support; the UK national policy on peer support; evidence of the benefits of peer support; case studies of recent and continuing peer support in action; challenges facing peer support; and suggestions for developing peer support in the future.


The paper selects and discusses evidence from academic literature and policy and practice on peer support within the UK.


The evidence base demonstrating the benefits of peer support in mental health across the UK is increasing. This has persuaded UK governmental bodies to encourage the development of peer support services, of which there is a number of models and examples, although the current economic climate poses challenges to their development.


Historically, peer support in mental health services across the UK has developed piecemeal. But at a time when policy-makers, health practitioners and people who use mental health services are increasingly recognising the benefits of peer support, this paper draws key evidence together and provides pointers towards the future development of such services.



Lawton-Smith, S. (2013), "Peer support in mental health: where are we today?", The Journal of Mental Health Training, Education and Practice, Vol. 8 No. 3, pp. 152-158.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2013, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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