9. Implementation of peer support


Implementation means introducing something new within an organisation or society or the process of making something active or effective. For example: if you are the first peer supporter in your organisation and you want to make peer support available for all your co-workers and clients you have to first make space for peer support.

9.1 Implementation process


1. Peer support needs time and space, people to participate, resources to support it. At the beginning of the implementation, you need to make sure people would be receptive and interested in practising peer support, much like preparing the soil for planting a new flower. 


2. The leaders, managers, influencers and other key members of the group you are trying to bring peer support to need to be made aware of what peer support is and how it would benefit the community. In order to convince people to invest their time and other resources in peer support, you should be very clear about these questions:

    • What is peer support?
    • What do you need to implement peer support? (e.g. money, time, people, space ect.) 
    • Why is peer support important? 

3. A flower takes time to grow and an organisation or group of people might not be immediately on board with implementing peer support practices, but if it’s something important to you, do try to nurture your idea by discussing it with others. You could also plant a seed by volunteering your time as a peer supporter to those that may need it. Good experiences with the new practice make people much more likely to embrace it. 


4. Once you’ve managed to convince the people in charge of the organisation about the importance of peer support, you can start planning ways to implement it. In your plan or project you can answer:

    • How many peer supporters would you need; 
    • What are the exact roles and responsibilities of the peer supporters; 
    • How would they be educated;
    • Who would coordinate the team;
    • How will you provide supervision and coaching of the peer supporters; 
    • Whether the supervisors and coaches will be paid; 
    • How will they be paid;
    • How could the peer supporters reach peers in need;
    • Which rooms are you going to use; 
    • How often would you have meetings;
    • If you would meet in groups or one-on-one or both;
    • How to evaluate the influence of peer support;
    • Etc.

5. Start the implementation process and bring your ideas to life.

9.2 Importance of being connected with other peers

You arrived at the end of this online course, congratulations! In the last part of this course we will tell you about why it is important for you to connect and stay connected with your own peers. 


Peer support

As a peer supporter you need support, too. Some reasons are:

  • Peer support can trigger your own painful emotions, it is important you work through and share them.
  • Peer support can challenge your boundaries and opinions. Due to your own experience you can relate better to others that have experienced difficulties in life. This connection is an important part of peer support but it’s also a challenging part. Because of your similarities, it’s easy to expect your peers to handle conflicts the way that you have, to have the same beliefs and values. Accepting that can be very difficult at times.
  • You never really finish learning peer support. Every new person is different and needs a slightly different approach, every group meeting or session can bring unexpected situations and challenges. 


Reflection exercise

Purpose: Reflect on yourself as peer supporter.

  1. Think about a moment in your life which was really difficult.
  2. Remember a person that supported you in that situation.
  3. Imagine you were that person and you had to support yourself.
  4. What did you need?
  5. How did your supporter support you?
  6. What would you have done differently?
  7. Where were you thankful for?
  8. What will you need as a peer supporter?


You have now finished our e-learning about the basics of peer support in mental health. 
Go practise your skills – and find extra materials to support you in our toolkit!