Peer support as a resilience building practice with men

Mark Robinson (Research Fellow, Centre for Men’s Health, Leeds Beckett University, Leeds, UK)
Gary Raine (Researcher, Centre for Men’s Health, Leeds Beckett University, Leeds, UK)
Steve Robertson (Professor, Centre for Men’s Health, Leeds Beckett University, Leeds, UK)
Mary Steen (Professor of Midwifery, School of Nursing and Midwifery, University of South Australia, Adelaide, Australia)
Rhiannon Day (Research Assistant, Institute for Health and Wellbeing, Leeds Beckett University, Leeds, UK)

Journal of Public Mental Health

ISSN: 1746-5729

Publication date: 21 December 2015



The purpose of this paper is to present findings from an evaluation of a community mental health resilience intervention for unemployed men aged 45-60. The focus is on examining the place of facilitated peer support within a multi-dimensional men’s mental health programme, and exploring implications for resilience building delivery approaches for men.


The paper draws on a mixed methodology design involving before and after survey data and qualitative interviews, to report results concerning effectiveness in changing men’s perceived resilience, to consider project processes concerning peer support, and to situate these within wider community environments.


The programme significantly raised the perceived resilience of participants. Project activities promoted trusting informal social connections, gains in social capital arose through trusting relations and skill-sharing, and peer-peer action-focused talk and planning enhanced men’s resilience.

Research limitations/implications

The paper considers facilitated peer support on a programme, rather than on-going informal peer support or more formal peer support roles (a limitation reflecting the boundaries of the funded programme).

Practical implications

The paper discusses emerging considerations for resilience building, focusing on gender-sensitive approaches which can engage and retain men by focusing on doing and talking. It highlights the importance of peer support in community interventions which feature a social model of change. There is potential for encouraging further peer mentoring and peer led support beyond facilitated peer support in programme delivery.

Social implications

Potential exists for gender-aware programmes to sustain salutogenic change, co-producing social assets of peer support, male-friendly activities, and context sensitive course provision.


The paper adds fresh evidence of gendered intervention approaches with a specific focus on facilitated community peer support, including effects on male resilience. Little previous resilience research is gendered, there is little gendered research on peer support, and unemployed middle-aged men are a significant risk group.



Robinson, M., Raine, G., Robertson, S., Steen, M. and Day, R. (2015), "Peer support as a resilience building practice with men", Journal of Public Mental Health, Vol. 14 No. 4, pp. 196-204.

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