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Why we have developed this training programme

UCLPartners, Care City and PPL have used The Competence Framework published by Health Education England to create a Mental Health Peer Support Worker Training programme.


  • 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.

Training Peer Support Workers to Support Early Intervention in Mental Health Care

  • One approach to addressing this problem is the development of the peer support role, where people who have experience of mental health challenges provide interventions and support to others with mental health challenges
  • Despite the evidence for the value of the peer support role, current development programmes for the role vary between hospital and community trusts
  • There is currently no standardised training available for organisations to access.

Creating a Standardised Training Programme for Peer Support Workers

  • National Collaborating Centre For Mental Health (NCCMH), Health Education England (HEE) and UCL Partners developed a competence framework and curriculum to support the expansion in the number of Peer Support Worker (PSW) roles.
  • UCLPartners in collaboration with NCCMH, Care City and PPL have designed a 9-module, 10-day, PSW Training Programme
  • The training programme is based on the competence framework and curriculum. The training has converted the units in the framework to training days – the Competency Framework Map on page 13 of the supporting document illustrates how the PSW Training Team mapped the competencies to each training day. Please refer
    to the competence framework and curriculum for more information and context
  • 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.
  • For a full overview of how we approached and developed the training please download the Peer Supports Workers training supporting document.