Initial evaluation of the Peer-to-Peer program.

OBJECTIVE: Peer-to-Peer, sponsored by the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), is a structured, experiential, self-empowerment, relapse prevention and wellness program led by trained peer mentors for people with mental illnesses. The authors conducted the first empirical evaluation of the program by using a pre-post survey design.

METHODS: Approximately 550 participants who were enrolled in Peer-to-Peer during the data collection period (2005-2006) were invited to complete a brief, anonymous survey before participating in the program and immediately after.

RESULTS: Analyses of responses from 138 participants indicated that they gained significant benefits, especially in areas central to the Peer-to-Peer curriculum–specifically, knowledge and management of their illness, feelings of being less powerless and more confident, connection with others, and completion of an advance directive. Qualitative analysis of responses to an open-ended postintervention question supported the quantitative findings.

CONCLUSIONS: Peer-to-Peer is a promising self-help modality that warrants additional evaluation with more rigorous methodology.