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A reflection on the development and delivery of a community peer support service for clients experiencing anxiety and depression

Nicky Lidbetter (Director of Mental Health, Self Help, The Big Life group, Manchester, UK)
Nic Seccombe (Informatics Lead at Self Help, The Big Life group, Manchester, UK)
Ember Girling Rogers (Strengths-Based Trainer, The Big Life group, Manchester, UK)
Tina Lee (Service Manager of Minds Matter and Safe Tameside, The Big Life group, Manchester, UK)

Mental Health and Social Inclusion

ISSN: 2042-8308

Article publication date: 29 June 2022

Issue publication date: 26 September 2022




The purpose of this paper is to describe the development, implementation, delivery and evolution of a community-led, comprehensive, peer support service, including co-production approaches, peer support worker role development, outcomes, acceptability and lessons learnt over a five-year timeframe.


This case study presents a reflection on a charity’s peer support service development along with outcomes to highlight client progress.


Improvement in well-being as measured through the Warwick Edinburgh Mental Wellbeing Scale (WEMWBS) was evidenced along with demonstrating that the peer support service offers complementary support to Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) services.

Research limitations/implications

There was limited quantitative data, and that which existed was analysed on a service-wide basis as opposed to looking at individual components of the service.

Practical implications

This paper demonstrates the value of peer support provision as part of an overall primary care, community-based mental health service, including findings that suggest that for some individuals, where IAPT services did not help them as much, a peer-based service appeared to be more suitable.

Social implications

The peer support service provided a complementary and alternative service to conventional primary care mental health services whilst offering individuals with lived experience to gain volunteering, employment and development opportunities.


Whilst peer support services have been well documented in the literature for clients experiencing serious mental illness, research on the use of such approaches in the management of common mental health difficulties including anxiety and depression is not as well established. The aim of this paper is to detail the experiences of a user-led charity in developing and delivering peer support services, including challenges encountered. Furthermore, this paper describes a peer support service that has been integrated with a co-existing low intensity IAPT service, reporting recovery rates for clients that have accessed both peer support and IAPT services.



The authors would like to thank the Big Lottery Fund.The authors also acknowledge the peer support staff and volunteers who participated in the project.The authors declare no known/perceived conflicts of interest.Ethics approval: Ethics approval was not sought as this paper used anonymous data collected routinely as part of service delivery. As part of the privacy notice for the service, data may be used anonymously for the purpose of service evaluation.


Lidbetter, N., Seccombe, N., Rogers, E.G. and Lee, T. (2022), "A reflection on the development and delivery of a community peer support service for clients experiencing anxiety and depression", Mental Health and Social Inclusion, Vol. 26 No. 4, pp. 389-400.



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