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Starting a peer support program involves thinking about the kinds of support that people need and how you can address them.  Doing so requires attention to the needs and strengths of your organization, the target population you aim to serve, the peer supporters and what they need to provide support, and ideas about what peer support would look like in your setting.

In this section you can find information and resources that introduce a continuous process for developing and improving peer support programs.  Resources also illustrate various ways and approaches to address core functions of peer support.

Program Development and Management: Four Phases

As illustrated below, starting or strengthening a peer support program often goes through four phases: Organizational Readiness, Program Development, Program Implementation, & Evaluation. All phases are critical to program sustainability.

A rectangular diagram showing the four phases of development and managing a peer support program. In the center is a small rectangle that reads sustainability. The four corners say organizational readiness, program development, program implementation, and evaluation.

Learn more about how to start a peer support program

  • Roadmap to Peer Support from Johns Hopkins University, funded by the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute
  • Peer Support Toolkit from the Philadelphia Department of Behavioral Health and Intellectual Disability Services
  • This Peer Support Resource Manual by British Columbia Ministry of Health Services describes formal and informal structures of peer support program for adults with mental illnesses.
  • Live, Learn and Share – A Diabetes Peer Support Group Guide for the Black Caribbean Community provides information, step-by-step guidance and resources for people living with diabetes to start a Diabetes Peer Support Group.