Taking a Gamble for High Rewards? Management Perspectives on the Value of Mental Health Peer Workers

Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2018 Apr 13;15(4):746. doi: 10.3390/ijerph15040746.


Mental health peer work is attracting growing interest and provides a potentially impactful method of service user involvement in mental health design and delivery, contributing to mental health reform. The need to effectively support this emerging workforce is consequently increasing. This study aimed to better understand the views of management in relation to peer work and specifically explores the value of peer work from the perspective of management. This qualitative research employed grounded theory methods. There were 29 participants in total, employed in both peer designated and non-peer designated management roles, in not for profit and public health organisations in Queensland, Australia. The value of peer work as described by participants is found to be partially dependent on practical supports and strategies from the organisation. There were high benefits for all facets of the organisation when effective recruitment and ongoing support for peer workers was prioritised and a higher perception of limitations when they were not. Due to some parallels, it may be useful to explore the potential for peer work to be conceptually and/or practically considered as a form of diversity and inclusion employment.

Keywords: diversity employment; lived experience work; management; mental health reform; mental health services; peer work; recovery; service users.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Grounded Theory
  • Humans
  • Mental Health
  • Mental Health Services / organization & administration*
  • Peer Group*
  • Qualitative Research
  • Queensland