Insights & opinion

What's the evidence base for peer support in mental health recovery?

What is peer support or coaching and how does it help people with mental and behavioural health problems? More importantly, does it work?

September 22, 2023

Coaching or Peer support is an essential element of the care provided by Portobello Behavioural Health, but how can it help? Coaching to assist with mental health recovery has gained recognition as a valuable component of comprehensive care. While it is important to note that research in this area is ongoing, there is growing evidence supporting the effectiveness of peer support in mental health recovery.

Improved Outcomes

The importance of peer support in achieving improved mental health outcomes cannot be overstated. Recent studies reinforce this notion by revealing that individuals receiving peer support are not only less likely to experience psychiatric hospitalizations but also report enhanced medication adherence. This heightened compliance with treatment plans can lead to more effective symptom management, reducing the severity and duration of mental health challenges. It's noteworthy that such improvements in outcomes translate to tangible benefits in terms of the overall quality of life for individuals on their path to recovery.

Empowerment and Self-Management
Coaching is rooted in the idea of shared experiences and the empowerment that comes with it.

Extensive research showcases that individuals who engage in peer support programs experience a newfound sense of self-efficacy and autonomy in managing their mental health. Coaches, having traversed similar paths, offer not just empathy but practical insights drawn from their own recovery journeys. This shared wisdom serves to boost individuals' confidence and fosters active participation in their own recovery, enabling them to become active agents in their healing process.

Social Support and Connection

Mental health challenges can often lead to feelings of isolation and alienation. However, peer support offers a lifeline to those grappling with such emotions. Research underscores the profound role of social support in mental health recovery. Peer support creates safe and non-judgmental spaces where individuals can freely share their experiences. This sense of belonging and connection significantly reduces feelings of isolation, and promotes social integration, ultimately leading to improved overall well-being.

Reduction in Stigma

The battle against stigma and discrimination associated with mental health conditions continues to be a critical aspect of mental health care. By openly sharing their personal experiences and displaying their successful journeys toward recovery, peer support coaches become powerful advocates who challenge stereotypes and promote understanding within the broader community. Such efforts are vital in fostering a more inclusive and supportive environment for individuals facing mental health challenges.


In an era where healthcare costs are a pressing concern, the cost-effectiveness of peer support interventions cannot be ignored. Recent data emphasizes the economic benefits of eper support. Where peer support is present there is a a 15% reduction in A&E visits, a 10% decrease in hospital readmissions, and an overall 8% reduction in healthcare costs. This not only makes coaching an attractive option for individuals seeking affordable mental health care but also positions it as a strategic choice for healthcare providers looking to optimize resource allocation.

It's important to note that while peer support can complement professional mental health services, it is not intended to replace them.

Peer support is recognized and integrated into mental health systems in many countries, and ongoing research continues to explore its effectiveness and optimal implementation. As the evidence base continues to grow, coaching is increasingly seen as an important and valuable component of a comprehensive approach to mental health recovery.

By integrating coaching into comprehensive care models, Portobello Behavioural Health is able to provide additional an flexible support not offered by traditional therapy or residential institutions.

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