The Intentional Differences: A Qualitative Study of the Views and Experiences of Non-peer Mental Health Providers on Working Together with Peer Support Colleagues in Mental Health


The study reports the results of a qualitative study on the views and experiences of non-peer mental health providers on working together with peer colleagues in mental health. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 20 providers in different mental health settings. Data were systematic analyzed using thematic analysis and resulted in three overall themes: (1) The relationship and collaboration between the mental health providers and their peer colleagues, (2) The benefits of working with peers, and (3) The challenges of working with peers. In analyzing the data material, the theme of the relationship and collaboration between the non-peer mental health providers and their peer colleagues could be organized into two subthemes on the differences that the providers perceived between themselves and their peer colleagues. One subtheme was on differences when the providers perceived the differences as positive and meaningful. The other subtheme was on differences between themselves and their peer colleagues when the providers perceived the differences as concerning. This study’s findings show that the attitudes and experiences of peer support in mental health providers are in general positive, but also that mental health providers in the early phases of peer support implementation could have many concerns and may find the perceived and mainly valued differences between themselves and their peer support colleagues also distressing. The implications for practice include a need to address possible barriers to peer support, including frustration or feelings of injustice among mental health providers, especially as such issues are not easy to pinpoint or address by formal guidelines on peer support.

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Correspondence to Lisa Korsbek.

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Korsbek, L., Vilholt-Johannesen, S., Johansen, G.K. et al. The Intentional Differences: A Qualitative Study of the Views and Experiences of Non-peer Mental Health Providers on Working Together with Peer Support Colleagues in Mental Health. Community Ment Health J (2021).

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  • Mental health
  • Peer support
  • Recovery
  • Implementation