Lessons from Peer Support Among Individuals with Mental Health Difficulties: A Review of the Literature

Clinical Practice & Epidemiology in Mental Health 16 Apr 2012 RESEARCH ARTICLE DOI: 10.2174/1745017901208010022


We conducted a comprehensive narrative review and used a systematic search strategy to identify studies related to peer support among adults with mental health difficulties. The purposes of this review were to describe the principles, effects and benefits of peer support documented in the published literature, to discuss challenging aspects of peer support and to investigate lessons from peer support. Fifty-one studies, including 8 review articles and 19 qualitative studies, met the inclusion criteria for this review. Most of the challenges for peer support were related to “role” and “relationship” issues; that is, how peer support providers relate to people who receive peer support and how peer support providers are treated in the system. The knowledge gained from peer support relationships, such as mutual responsibility and interdependence, might be a clue toward redefining the helper-helper relationship as well as the concepts of help and support.

Keywords: Benefit, Effect, Mental Health, Mutuality, Peer Support, Principle, Reciprocity, Relationship.
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