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Making peer-focused self-management programmes work in public mental health

Emily Satinsky (Mental Health Foundation, London, UK) (Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology, and Neuroscience, King’s College London, London, UK) (London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, London, UK)
David Crepaz-Keay (Mental Health Foundation, London, UK)
Antonis Kousoulis (Mental Health Foundation, London, UK)

The Journal of Mental Health Training, Education and Practice

ISSN: 1755-6228

Article publication date: 15 June 2018

Issue publication date: 30 August 2018




The purpose of this paper is to review the Mental Health Foundation’s experiences designing, implementing and evaluating peer-focused self-management programmes. Through a discussion of barriers and good practice, it outlines ways to be successful in making such projects work to improve mental health and wellbeing among at-risk populations.


A total of 11 Mental Health Foundation programmes implemented over the past ten years were reviewed through reading manuals and publications and interviewing programme managers. Key data were extracted from each programme to analyse trends in aims, outcomes and recommendations.


Through a focus on peer-work, programmes taught individuals from a variety of societal sectors self-management skills to effectively deal with life stressors. Through sharing in non-judgmental spaces and taking ownership of programme design and content, individuals realised improvements in wellbeing and goal achievement.

Practical implications

Good practice, barriers and recommendations can be taken from this review and applied to future peer-focused self-management programmes. By better embedding quantitative and qualitative evaluations into programme development and implementation, programmes can add to the evidence base and effectively target needs.


This review lays out valuable experience on an innovative community service paradigm and supports the evidence on effectiveness of peer-focused self-management programmes with a variety of group populations.



The Mental Health Foundation would like to acknowledge everyone who participated in interviews concerning included and excluded programmes, and everyone who took part in discussions of the peer-focused self-management manual and the Theory of Change model. Each individual project pilot had been funded by a charitable grant. However, no additional external funding contributed to this paper. The authors are employees of the Mental Health Foundation. They declare no other competing interests.


Satinsky, E., Crepaz-Keay, D. and Kousoulis, A. (2018), "Making peer-focused self-management programmes work in public mental health", The Journal of Mental Health Training, Education and Practice, Vol. 13 No. 5, pp. 257-263.



Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2018, Emerald Publishing Limited

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