UPSIDES: Using Peer Support In Developing Empowering Mental Health Services.

The main objective of UPSIDES is to widen access to peer support interventions for people with severe mental illness, by researching sustainable best practice in high-, middle- and low-resource settings. The UPSIDES project involves scientists, mental health professionals, peer workers and service users from six countries in Europe, Africa and Asia.

The aim of UPSIDES 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:
To establish an international community of practice for peer support across high-, middle- and low-resource settings.
• A consortium of mental health researchers, providers and users will be established at eight study sites in six countries in Europe, Africa and Asia.

To conduct a situational analysis of existing peer support initiatives in the participating countries.
• To understand the current stage of development of peer support and identify organisational and cultural considerations of the peer support worker role which may impact development.

To scale up peer support models with a focus on vulnerable populations where pilot initiatives already exist.
• By manualising existing interventions and building capacity in co-production and co-delivery of demonstrations.

To contextualize and adapt peer support models for those sites where there are no peer support initiatives.
• By adapting existing tools, materials and strategies from demonstration centres to ensure cultural and situational appropriateness, or creating new ones, as needed.

To rigorously evaluate inputs, processes and outcomes of implementation, including an assessment of process and contextual factors following a theory of change approach using mixed-methods.
• To conduct a multi-site randomized trial augmented with qualitative methods, which will assess user-, service- and system-level outcomes.
• To investigate active ingredients and key barriers and facilitators for research and practice.

To distil from case studies evidence of best practice for dissemination to local, national and international stakeholders in order to maximise sustainability and spread.
• By engaging diverse national and local advisory boards including service users, carers, senior clinical staff members, representatives of Health Ministries, hospital directors, community leaders, and and a Communications Taskforce.