Children and young people’s mental health: peer support

Closed 24 Mar 2016

Opened 17 Feb 2016


Good mental health and wellbeing is a key priority for the Department for Education. Young people have told us they would like to see more peer support as a way of supporting mental wellbeing, and that they need more opportunities and help in how to provide it effectively. So we have launched this call for evidence to find out more about:

  • what works in peer support for children and young  people’s mental wellbeing;
  • the approaches that are currently available; and
  • how things might be improved.


Peer support can be a variety of things - from helping a friend to discuss their problems,   through buddying and befriending schemes, to 1:1 and group support sessions. It can happen face to face or be online. It’s about promoting emotional wellbeing as much as supporting those with problems.

We define ‘peers’ to mean friends or other young people, including those who may be older. For example, older young pupils in secondary school who provide support to Year 7 students as they come up from primary school.

“Peer mentoring is a fantastic idea as young people should be able to feel like they aren’t the only one going through these problems.” A young person who took part in the Future in Mind Taskforce engagement exercises.

Many schools already provide peer support schemes on a wide range of topics such as friendships, bullying and transition. Some schools already run peer support programmes for mental health. Many voluntary and community organisations outside of schools, including online organisations, have also developed schemes for peer support. We want to hear about these too.

We don’t intend peer support to be a replacement for specialist support from a mental health professional, but we do think that good peer support might be able to help to ensure young people get the help that they need. We want to create an environment, in schools, colleges, community groups and online, which promotes good mental wellbeing and helps young people to have the knowledge and confidence to be able to support one another.  

We value your views and opinions, which are vital for the development of this programme.

Why your views matter

We have launched this call for evidence to find out more about your knowledge and experience of peer support for children and young people’s mental health. This might be support within schools, online or in community groups and settings.

We want to understand what best practice looks like, what training or accreditation it might include and how peer support fits within the range of mental health support available.

We particularly want to hear from young people as they understand better than anyone the pressures that their peers face.


  • Teachers
  • Headteachers
  • Governors
  • School support staff
  • Training providers
  • Local authorities
  • Pupils
  • Young people
  • Parents
  • Foster carers
  • Adoptive parents
  • Community representatives
  • Volunteers


  • Health and wellbeing