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The Using Peer Support In Developing Empowering Mental Health Services (UPSIDES) Study was funded by the European Union Horizon 2020 programme, and taking place in England, Germany, India, Israel, Tanzania and Uganda from 2018 to 2022.

Aims and objectives

The aim of the UPSIDES study is to replicate and scale-up peer support interventions for people with severe mental illness, generating evidence of sustainable best practice in high-, middle- and low-resource settings, through mixed-methods implementation research.

The objectives are:

1. To establish an international community of practice for peer support across high-, middle- and low-resource settings

2. To conduct a situational analysis of existing peer support initiatives in the participating countries

3. To scale up peer support models with a focus on vulnerable populations where pilot initiatives already exist

4. To contextualize and adapt peer support models for those sites where there are no peer support initiatives.

5. To rigorously evaluate inputs, processes and outcomes of implementation, including an as¬sessment of process and contextual factors following a theory of change approach using mixed-methods

6. To distil from case studies evidence of best practice for dissemination to local, national and international stakeholders in order to maximise sustainability and spread

Study progress

We published an overview of peer support work in global mental health here, which informed the protocol for the first phase of the study here. We conducted systematic reviews on influences on implementation of peer support work here and modifications to peer support work here, and undertook a 21-country Delphi consultation about initial training for peer support workers here. Our theory of change is described here, the development of the peer support worker intervention is described here, and the UPSIDES peer support worker training manual and workbook are free to download here. We developed and implemented a proportionate translation methodology for study materials here. In 2023 we completed the UPSIDES randomised controlled trial, which followed the trial protocol here and included a pilot phase here. We explored the perspectives of mental health workers here and here, perspectives of key informants here, and investigated the impact of societal and organisational factors on peer support worker implementation here.

Further information about the UPSIDES Study is available on the UPSIDES website http://www.upsides.org, which includes a complete list of study outputs here, or you can contact us here.