Study information for peer supporters

What is the purpose of this study?

This study will introduce and evaluate an intervention aiming to provide support for secondary school teachers’ wellbeing and mental health. Studies show that teachers have greater emotional distress compared to the rest of the working population, and that such distress is associated with sickness absence and poor performance at work.  Further, there is evidence that teachers would welcome greater support and training in how to support student wellbeing and mental health. The intervention has already been piloted in 6 schools. Your school is one of twenty five schools across England and Wales that are taking part.

What does the intervention involve?

The intervention is made up of three parts:

  • At least 8% of all staff will receive training in a validated, national programme called Mental Health First Aid (MHFA; and subsequently will provide a confidential peer support service to colleagues. This is the training that the peer supporters will receive
  • Training in MHFA for Schools and Colleges, delivered to up to 16 teachers during INSET time. This is a one day version of MHFA, developed specifically for adults working in schools, to strengthen their skills in supporting vulnerable students.
  • A one hour mental health awareness raising session delivered to all teaching staff.

Why have I been asked to take part?

You may remember that teachers at your school completed a questionnaire recently which asked them to nominate colleagues that they thought would be good in a peer supporter role.  You were one of the people most frequently nominated, and this is why you have been invited to become a peer supporter.. 

What am I being asked to do?

If you are willing to be a peer supporter, you will need to attend all 2 days of the MHFA training. We will provide cover for this where needed. You will then become one of a team providing a confidential one to one support service to your colleagues in school, offering a listening ear, and where relevant, providing advice or signposting to other services.  Staff will be able to contact you using agreed methods such as email, and you will then respond to that person when you are able, and arrange a time to speak.  You will be asked to attend termly feedback meetings with the research team and two focus groups over two years. You will receive more information about these meetings and focus groups nearer the time. 

Useful resources

We hope that this Peer supporter guidance (PDF, 332kB) will be useful for you in setting up and running the service as smoothly and effectively as possible. For further useful material please check out our resources section.

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