Development of the UPSIDES global mental health training programme for peer support workers: Perspectives from stakeholders in low, middle and high-income countries

Rebecca Nixdorf, Yasuhiro Kotera, Dave Baillie, Paula Garber Epstein, Cerdic Hall, Ramona Hiltensperger, Palak Korde, Galia Moran, Richard Mpango, Juliet Nakku, Bernd Puschner, Mary Ramesh, Julie Repper, Donat Shamba, Mike Slade, Jasmine Kalha, Candelaria Mahlke

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background Peer support in mental health is a low-threshold intervention with increasing evidence for enhancing personal recovery and empowerment of persons living with severe mental health conditions. As peer support spreads globally, there is a growing need for peer support training programmes that work well in different contexts and cultures. This study evaluates the applicability and transferability of implementing a manualised multi-national training programme for mental health peer support workers called UPSIDES from the perspective of different local stakeholders in high-, middle-, and low-income countries. Method Data from seven focus groups across six study sites in Africa (Tanzania, Uganda), Asia (India, Israel), and Europe (Germany 2 sites) with 44 participants (3 service users, 7 peer support workers, 25 mental health staff members, 6 clinical directors and 3 local community stakeholders) were thematically analysed. Results 397 codes were identified, which were thematically analysed. Five implementation enablers were identified: (i) Enhancing applicability through better guidance and clarity of training programme management, (ii) provision of sufficient time for training, (iii) addressing negative attitudes towards peer support workers by additional training of organisations and staff, (iv) inclusion of core components in the training manual such as communication skills, and (v) addressing cultural differences of society, mental health services and discrimination of mental health conditions. Discussion Participants in all focus groups discussed the implementation of the training and peer support intervention to a greater extent than the content of the training. This is in line with growing literature of difficulties in the implementation of peer support including difficulties in hiring peer support workers, lack of funding, and lack of role clarity. The results of this qualitative study with stakeholders from different mental health settings worldwide emphasises the need to further investigate the successful implementation of peer support training. All results have been incorporated into the manualisation of the UPSIDES peer support training.

Original languageAmerican English
Article numbere0298315
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number2 February
StatePublished - 1 Feb 2024

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General


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