Peer support

peer support logo Peer support isn’t something new. Its roots can be traced back to the eighteenth century, when asylums would employ former patients (Watson, 2019), due to the empathetic way they would interact with other patients, as a result of their shared lived experiences. 

Peer support is fast becoming an integral addition to mental health services as recovery now involves supporting individuals to makes sense of what has happened. It emphasises resilience and control over one’s life - rather than only focusing on full symptom resolution.  

At Nottinghamshire Healthcare we put personal recovery at the heart of all we do. Peer support workers model recovery by offering a lived example of the possibility of progression and growth, so we employ and train a number of individuals to work in various clinical teams across many localities.

How peer support works

In mental health services, peer support work encompasses a range of approaches through which people with lived experience of distress and recovery support each other. This support might be social, emotional or practical.  However, peer support workers make use of knowledge in their work, gained from their own personal experiences. This results in a different type of engagement and connection with people who use services, when compared to non-peer staff.


How a peer support worker can support you

Peer support workers (PSWs) work within multi-disciplinary teams (alongside doctors, nurses, psychologists etc.) found across our services. If you, or a loved one, are referred to one of these services, you will be given the choice of whether or not you would like to work with one of our PSWs. If you make the decision to work with one of our PSWs, they could support you in the following ways: 

  • By establishing a supportive and respectful relationship with you that is based on a shared understanding
  • Helping you identify your recovery goals
  • Sharing ideas with you, about ways of achieving recovery goals, by drawing on their own personal experience and a range of coping, self-help and self-management techniques
  • Assist you in creating your own recovery plan and develop an advanced directive
  • By modelling personal responsibility, self-awareness, self-belief, self-advocacy and hopefulness
  • Signposting you to various resources, opportunities and activities within the trust and in the community
  • Accompanying you to appointments, meetings and activities that are aligned to recovery goals
  • Helping you to overcome fears within a relationship of empathy and trust.

Peer support training

Our six hour online course has been developed for people with experience of mental health challenges, or caring for others with similar difficulties, and who want to explore how to use their experiences to support other people.

The course is delivered over two days and is subject to availability. Students will experience presentations, group work, discussions and creative activities.

The course is particularly useful for people who are looking to find out more about peer support, and who are considering applying for positions where they explicitly draw on their lived experience. The course is co-produced, co-facilitated and co-reviewed by experienced peer support workers and peer trainers, in addition to other professionals who are experienced with working in recovery focussed ways and in recovery and wellbeing education.


Learning outcomes

By the end of the course, you will be able to:

  • Define peer support and the peer worker role
  • Understand the core principles that underpin the role
  • Explain the skills and approaches used in peer support
  • Recognise different perspectives, hopes and concerns about peer support.



  • A short history of peer support
  • The core principles and values of peer support
  • The impact of language
  • The skills of peer working including active listening and reframing experiences
  • Reflective writing
  • Information and support for applying for peer support/carer peer support worker roles.


To find out about our next training courses and to check for available places please email:

How you can become a paid peer support worker

As a result of the growth and need for peer support, more and more vacancies are becoming available which are advertised through our Trust recruitment website which can be accessed here. Vacancies are advertisied throughout the year. Please check back if there are no vacancies currently out to advert.

To be eligible to apply for any advertised vacancies, you will need to meeting the following criteria, You need to:

  • have lived experience of mental distress and recovery
  • be in a position to be able to use your own experiences positively to foster hope and inspire others
  • have the ability to work in an enabling and creative way
  • be able to commit to the training course
  • be able to demonstrate the ability and aptitude to undertake the training 
  • have a positive attitude and value diversity
  • have a willingness to support others to shape and improve our services
  • have developed plans for managing your own recovery

For successful applicants, we have developed an additional comprehensive training package to support them to skilfully use their experience of mental health, trauma or distress to support people who might be up against similar challenges. 

Additional training cover things such as:

  • Active listening and communication skills
  • The key principles of recovery and recovery focused support
  • How to share lived experience safely with colleagues and in peer support relationships
  • Completing a reflective practice work placement booklet to ensure they have met the course competencies
  • Recovery focused note writing.

Contact us

Our Peer Development Team are responsible for overseeing the Trust’s formalised recruitment, training and development of all peer support workers. If you would like to learn more about Peer Support at Nottinghamshire Healthcare please contact us at:

General email:

The Trust's Peer Support Development Team consists of the following people:

Tony Mitchell
Interim Peer Support Development Lead

Drew Szmit
Peer Support Development Worker

Saffron Bradshaw
Peer Support Development Worker



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