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.
This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.
Buy single article
Instant access to the full article PDF.
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.
Subscribe to journal
Immediate online access to all issues from 2019. Subscription will auto renew annually.
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.
Asad, S., & Chreim, S. (2015). Peer support providers’ role experiences on interprofessional mental health care teams: A qualitative study. Community Mental Health Journal, 52(7), 767–774.
Braun, V., & Clarke, V. (2012). Thematic analysis. In H. Cooper (Ed.), APA handbook of research methods in psychology. Vol. 2, Research designs. American Psychological Association.
Collins, R., Firth, L., & Shakespeare, T. (2016). “Very much evolving”: A qualitative study of the views of psychiatrists about peer support workers. Journal of Mental Health, 25(3), 278–283.
Doughty, C., & Tse, S. (2011). Can consumer-led mental health services be equally effective? An integrative review of CLMH services in high-income countries. Community Mental Health Journal, 47(3), 252–266.
Gillard, S., Foster, R., Gibson, S., Goldsmith, L., Marks, J., & White, S. (2017). Describing a principles-based approach to developing and evaluating new peer worker roles as peer support moves into mainstream mental health services. Mental Health and Social Inclusion, 21(3), 133–143.
Gillard, S., Holley, J., Gibson, S., Larsen, J., Lucock, M., Oborn, E., Rinaldi, M., & Stamou, E. (2015). Introducing new peer worker roles into mental health services in England: Comparative case study research across a range of organisational contexts. Administration and Policy in Mental Health and Mental Health Services Research, 42(6), 682–694.
Hamilton, A. B., Chinman, M., Cohen, A. N., Oberman, R. S., & Young, A. S. (2015). Implementation of consumer providers into mental health intensive case management teams. Journal of Behavioral Health Services & Research, 42(1), 100–108.
Kilpatrick, E., Keeney, S., & McCauley, C. O. (2017). Tokenistic or genuinely effective? Exploring the views of voluntary sector staff regarding the emerging peer support worker role in mental health. Journal of Psychiatric and Mental Health Nursing, 24(7), 503–512.
Korsbek, L. (2017). How to recover? Recovery in Denmark: A work in progress. Journal of Recovery in Mental Health, 1(1), 25–34.
MacLellan, J., Surey, J., Abubakar, I., & Stagg, H. R. (2015). Peer support workers in health: A qualitative metasynthesis of their experiences. PLoS ONE, 10(10), e0141122.
Mancini, M. A. (2018). An exploration of factors that effect the implementation of peer support services in community mental health settings. Community Mental Health Journal, 54(2), 127–137.
Mancini, M. A., & Lawson, H. A. (2009). Facilitating positive emotional labor in peer-providers of mental health services. Administration in Social Work, 33(1), 3–22.
Mason, J. (2002). Qualitative researching (2nd edition). Sage.
Mulvale, G., Wilson, F., Jones, S., Green, J., Johansen, K.-J., Arnold, I., & Kates, N. (2019). Integrating mental health peer support in clinical settings: Lessons from Canada and Norway. Healthcare Management Forum, 32(2), 68–72.
Rebeiro Gruhl, K. L., LaCarte, S., & Calixte, S. (2016). Authentic peer support work: Challenges and opportunities for an evolving occupation. Journal of Mental Health, 25(1), 78–86.
Simpson, A., Oster, C., & Muir-Cochrane, E. (2018). Liminality in the occupational identity of mental health peer support workers: A qualitative study. International Journal of Mental Health Nursing, 27(2), 662–671.
Vandewalle, J., Debyser, B., Beeckman, D., Vandecasteele, T., Deproost, E., Van Hecke, A., & Verhaeghe, S. (2017). “Constructing a positive identity”: A qualitative study of the driving forces of peer workers in mental health care systems. International Journal of Mental Health Nursing, 27(1), 378–389.
Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.
About this article
Cite this article
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). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10597-021-00807-8
- Mental health
- Peer support