Mental Health Peer Support Worker Training
Training Peer Support Workers to Support Early Intervention in Mental Health Care
Alongside UCLPartners and PPL we have used The Competence Framework published by Health Education England to create a Mental Health Peer Support Worker Training programme course aimed to improve the knowledge and confidence of Peer Support Workers (PSW) and enable them back into the workplace with an improved PSW network and skills to aid their progression.
Why is this important?
- Mental health challenges are common, affect all age groups and are a leading cause of disability
- When accessed, treatment might be suboptimal and, even for people with more severe mental health problems, there may be limited long term support leading to increased use of crisis care and formal admissions
- The Five Year Forward View and the NHS Long Term Plan have sought to address this problem and have plans to significantly increase access to mental healthcare, but these plans are undermined by the limited availability of mental health staff within the system.
Peer support workers can, and already do, provide a range of evidence-based interventions which include brief (low intensity) psychological interventions for emerging and existing common mental disorders, personal and social support interventions (such as common navigation, befriending or mentoring) across the range of mental health problems, supporting self-management programmes for those with co-existing mental and physical health problems and crisis resolution interventions.
The challenge faced is that there is no standardised training and workplace progression for Peer Support Workers within North East and North Central London and Essex. Employment bands and responsibility can be different in various organisations, with varying remuneration schemes and contract types, a small number of permanent roles and a lack of standardised training. Coupled with limited support for sustainable implementation of the role, it can be difficult to develop permanent roles.
Creating a Standardised Training Programme for Peer Support Workers
- In collaboration with UCLPartners, NCCMH and PPL we designed a 9-module, 10-day, PSW Training Programme
- The training programme is based on the HEE competence framework and curriculum.
- 10 trainees completed the pilot of the training programme and provided feedback on their experiences.
- This training package aims to be flexible and adaptable, and not to over-professionalise or define too tightly a role which is about human connection and relationships (The Competence Framework for Mental Health Peer Support Workers, Part 1, Supporting Document, Health Education England, 2020). This Training Programme is our contribution to understandably contested territory.
- We have worked collaboratively to create a tool for practical use, co-producing this with system leaders through a co-design workshop initially, and with peer support workers through regular review of course content in the sessions. The package is intended to be comprehensive, but certainly not to be the final word on peer support workers and their learning.