Implementation of Peer Support in Mental Health Services: A Systematic Review of the Literature

Christina Mutschler
Chyrell Bellamy
Larry Davidson
Sidney Lichtenstein
Sean Kidd
Peer-Reviewed Article
May 2022


Identifies best practices for implementing peer support interventions and advancing recovery-oriented care within mental health organizations.


In this video, Benjamin F. Miller, PsyD, past president at Well Being Trust and member of the Playbook Advisory Group, shares perspectives on the value of this study.


Peer support interventions for people with mental illness can improve health and well-being, yet implementation of these interventions has been limited. Peer support workers have lived experience of mental health conditions and provide emotional and social support for recovery. This systematic review examined implementation barriers and facilitators for peer support worker interventions that are integrated into mental health provider organizations.


Factors for successful implementation of peer support interventions include clearly defined peer roles and responsibilities, demonstrated organizational support for peer support workers, an organizational culture oriented toward recovery, and comprehensive training for peers and non-peers on the model. In more effective implementation of these models, peer support workers are organizationally supported to draw on their strengths in connecting with individuals based on shared life experience and do not experience pressures to perform tasks outside of these roles. Peer support workers can be more effective when they feel empowered to contribute in meetings with clinical colleagues and provide recommendations about patient care.


Providers seeking to integrate peer support interventions – and policymakers examining pathways to better support scaling up this workforce – can apply the best practices in this systematic review to support the effective implementation of these programs.

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