This project developed, and evaluated, a resilience-building programme for adults with mental health problems that is provided through the Sussex Recovery College.

The programme of eight weekly sessions were developed and delivered by a partnership of peer trainers, a mental health practitioner from the Sussex Partnership NHS Trust and the project co-ordinator from the University of Brighton (previously also a mental health practitioner). The peer trainers were people with lived experience of mental health problems who had been recruited and were supported by the Sussex Recovery College, which is an established initiative involving a partnership of the NHS mental health trust and service user organisations. The project developed the course based on an adapted version of the Resilience Framework developed by Professor Angie Hart and collaborators, and drew on other resilience tools and models.

Project timeframe

The project commenced in September 2014 and ended in April 2017.

Project aims

The research project aimed to:

  • increase participants’ resilience to respond on an individual and collective basis to the adversities they face
  • help participants find ways to challenge these adversities in line with the emerging concept of emancipatory resilience.

Project findings and impact

Findings from this project included:

  • participants have been supported to move from an individual to an ‘ecological’ understanding of resilience (for example, they reported now seeing asking for help as a ‘resilient move’ not a sign of weakness)
  • the need to challenge some forms of adversity such as mental health stigma (not just cope with or adapt to it) resonated with participants
  • the partnership of practitioner, academic and lived experience expertise in course design and delivery has been experienced as very positive by learners on the course.

Research team and partners

Josh Cameron
Suna Eryigit-Madzawamuse
Angie Hart

Staff Brooker, Peer Trainer, Sussex Recovery College
Paul Neale, Peer Trainer, Sussex Recovery College
Mair Reardon, Occupational Therapist, Sussex Partnership NHS Trust