Objectives of peer-based programs

Objectives of Peer Support Programs1

Peer-based programs are diverse but they share some common objectives:

  1. To provide a safe space and learning environment for young people without fear of judgment, misunderstanding, harassment or abuse.
  2. To increase social connectedness and create a sense of belonging within supportive peer networks.
  3. To provide positive role models, positive peer influences and opportunities which help young people to develop a positive self concept, self acceptance and high self esteem.
  4. To prevent the onset or further development of mental health problems including depression, anxiety, self harm and suicidal ideation.
  5. To increase confidence and to develop and enhance communication and social skills.
  6. To empower young people to build personal resilience and improved help-seeking behaviour through increased knowledge of available support, reduced stigma associated with mental health difficulties and help-seeking, the development of positive coping strategies and the development of skills needed to access help.
  7. To foster future thinking and optimism and to widen young people’s understanding and beliefs of the opportunities available to them.

Short term impacts on individual:

  • Increased social connectedness
  • Increased self esteem
  • Increased confidence
  • Improved social skills
  • Positive role model for peers
  • Improved problem-solving skills
  • Improved help-seeking behaviour
  • Improved coping skills
  • Optimism.

Impacts on others:

  • Improved relationships
  • Positive influence on networks
  • Leadership within community
  • Leadership within program.

Long term outcomes:

  • Mental wellbeing
  • Physical wellbeing
  • Education/employment
  • Help-seeking
  • Community engagement.


  1. Lobo, R., G. Brown, B. Maycock., A. McManus. 2010. Development of an evaluation framework and evaluation approaches for peer-based youth programs – Interim Report. Perth: Western Australian Centre for Health Promotion Research, Curtin Health Innovation Research Institute.