PosterPDF Available

Peer support in the UPSIDES study: peer support workers‘ perspective

UPSIDES has received funding from the European
Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation
programme under gran t agr eem ent No 779263.This
poster reflects only the authors’ view.The Commission
is not responsible for an y use that may be made of the
information it contains.
The UPSIDES peer support worker
UPSIDES [1] peer support workers (PSWs) use their own lived experience to guide and help people with severe mental illness on
their recovery journey.Thereby, they build a trusting, informal and empathic relationship with their clients on an equal footing [3].
Their knowledge, experience and training enable them to accompany and support other people in crises [2].
UPSIDES peer support is recovery-oriented, based on hope, self-determination, and opportunities.The intervention is guided by
nine principles, which are listed in the figure on the right.It was developed to help with the day-to-day challenges that come with
mental illness. The support can consist of accompanying clients to authorities, mediating between family and mental health staff, or
help with planning their day.
[1] Puschner, B., Repper, J., Mahlke, C., Nixdorf, R., Basangwa, D., Nakku, J., Ryan, G., Baillie, D., Shamba, D., Ramesh, M., Moran, G., Lac hman n, M., Kalha, J., Pathare, S., Müller- Stierlin, A., & Slade, M. (2019). Usi ng peer s upport in
developing empowering mental health services (UPSIDES): background, rationale and methodology.Annals of Global Health,85(1). 10.5334/aogh.2435
[2] Haun, M., Bilmayer, S., Heuer, I. W., Mahlke, C. I., Puschner, B., Wagner, M., & Nixdorf, R. (2021). UPSIDES: Erfahrungen in Deutschland aus der Sicht von Peer-Begleiter* innen und -Trainer* innen [UPSIDES - first exper iences in
Germany from the perspectives of peer support workers and peer trainers]. Sozialpsychiatrische Informationen,51(3), 15-18. 10.14 86 /S I-2021-03_15
[3] Haun, M., Nixdorf, R., Heuer, I., Wagner, M., Bilmayer, S., Mah lke, C., Puschner, B. (20 21). UPSIDES Peer-Begleitung Gem ei nsam Krisen bewältigen [UPSIDES peer support overcoming crises together]. Ges undheitswesen,
[4] Mah lk e, C ., Nixdorf, R., Repper, J., Charles, A., Slade, M., Ryan, G., Hall, C., Bailie, D ., Hiltensperger, R., Mül ler-Stierlin, A., Nakku, J., Mpang o, R., Shamba, D., Ramesh, M., Garber-Epstein, P., Moran, G., Kalha, J., Korde, P., Puschner,
B., & UPSIDES Peer Support Trainers (2020). UPSIDES Peer Support Training Manual and Workbook: field version.
[5] Nixdorf, R., Charles, A., Gai Meir, L., Garber-Epstein, P., Ha das Grundman, S., Hiltensperger, R., Kulkarni, A., Mtei, R., Puschner, B., Ryan, G., Slade, M., & Mahlke, C. (2020). Development of aglobal mental health peer support worker
training program. Poster at GACD Annual Scientific Meeting, Nov 10-13.
Peer support in the UPSIDES study: peer support workers’ perspective
Manfred Lohner*, Lisa Wenzel*, Stefan Bilmayer, Maria Haun, Ramona Hiltensperger, David Meinecke, Martin Peters, Claudia Rohrmoser,
Sabine Rogg, Celine Scheffold, Maria Wagner, Iris Zimmermann & Bernd Puschner
Department of Psychiatry II, Ulm University, Günzburg, Germany
Literature Acknowledgements Contact details
In this video, Manfred Lohner talks about
his experiences as UPSIDES PSW in
The tree of life
The central principle of UPSIDES peer support is “mutuality”, i.e. it involves sharing experiences in away
that is helpful and inspiring to those being supported [4].
One of the tools to share personal stories is the tree of life.This is a useful method to identify strengths
and values, and to explore how these are affected by the past. Thus, the tree of life helps to share stories
in a recovery-focused way.Starting with the roots and ground, it grows upwards towards the sky a
symbol of hope and future opportunities [4].
During UPSIDES peer support, a client’s unique recovery journey is explored based on the tree of life.It
consists of different parts, which are presented in the picture on the left.One part is the trunk, which
represents your strengths, skills and values.During peer support, the PSW and the client elaborate the
client’s strengths, skills and values. Possible strengths could be being tolerant, responsible, motivated,
and/or diplomatic.
PSWs are currently working in Ulm/Günzburg6
clients have received UPSIDES peer support in
Ulm/Günzburg so far
weeks is the average duration of UPSIDES peer
support in Ulm/Günzburg
is the average number of meetings taking place
during UPSIDES peer support in Ulm/Günzburg
Fact check
Meet our team!
The PSWs in Günzburg work
in a multi-professional team
that thrives on mutual trust and
support. Each member of the
team is pictured on the right-
hand side. Our team meets
and exchanges experiences
on a regular basis and each
PSW is supervised additionally
by a mental health
The role of the PSW
Based on the nine principles of peer support, the role of the
PSW is to:
provide an open space for sharing experiences
show empathy, authenticity and respect
give and take both sides benefit from the contact
work out solutions together with their clients
help their clients grow
give hope, show possibilities and opportunities
encourage and support their clients
promote autonomy
support to participate in and shape society
include different perspectives and share knowledge
facilitate inclusion of different perspectives and equal
cooperation between clients, relatives, and health
maintain one’s own boundaries and those of others
Take a look inside the PSW office in
Here Maria Wagner, PSW and UPSIDES
trainer in Günzburg, explains what peer
support means to her.
Common topics during peer support
Networking within mental health support
PSWsown recovery story
Rediscovering oneself
Family relationships
Dissatisfaction at work
Finding balance in everyday life
We are excited to report that peer support will be
maintained in Ulm/Günzburg even beyond the
durations of the UPSIDES study, as two
UPSIDES PSWs have been hired by the hospital
and even more is planned!
*= shared first author
Corresponding author:
Lisa W enzel
Ulm University
Department of Psychiatry II
Lindenallee 2
D-89312 Günzburg
Let us keep in touch and visit our
website at
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