School of Nursing, Psychotherapy and Community Health

Certificate in Peer Support Working in Mental Health

CAO Code:
Course Type:
NFQ Level:
Single Module - no corresponding NFQ award
Delivery Modes
1 year
+353 (0) 1
700 7861
The University has launched a new student application portal. For applications to this programme see the Make an Application section below.

This course is for people who would like to be Peer Support Workers or Family Peer Support Workers in the area of mental health. This course will help develop your knowledge and skills in order to develop your practice as peer support workers in mental health inpatient and community settings. This Certificate will help you enhance your existing strengths and skills so you can make a greater impact in your role. On this course you will examine the latest trends and developments nationally and internationally in recovery orientated mental health practice, explore the historical, statutory and policy framework in which the Irish Mental Health Service operates within, understand the core principles, competencies and practices of peer support working and the principles of the individualised nature of recovery and a person centred approach, engage in reflective practice, supervision and support structures to maintain fidelity to the role of professional peer support working.

The philosophy of the programme is underpinned by; intentional emancipatory education; utilisation of lived experience; a facilitated (as opposed to didactic) learning process; and the pursuit of practical wisdom. The pedagogical approach is ‘co-operative learning’, one that has been developing in the School of Nursing and Human Sciences since 2007

The Certificate consists of three modules delivered on a part-time basis over two semesters. The course involves attendance in two-day blocks every two weeks during semester 1(10 in total) and once a month (6 days in total) in semester 2 and 16 days on-line work through Loop.   

Students study the following topics:

  • Models of peer support and practice skills conducive to the facilitation of support and recovery for people with mental health problems and their family members.
  • Multidisciplinary roles and functions in mental health services provision and potential place of peer support workers in this system
  • HSE infrastructure, policy and professional practice guidelines that apply to all mental health workers in mental health services.
  • The historical context of evolving mental health policy and practice in relation to diverse models applied to mental health difficulties and service/professional response
  • Recovery in relation to contemporary mental health care and national and international standards for the rights of people with disability and mental health and their families.
  • Variety of underpinning philosophies of psychology, sociology and community development in relation to self and group systems
  • Styles of leadership in relation to individual abilities and competencies in judgement and decision making
  • Interpersonal & leadership skills and processes and propose solutions that are effective in groups and community engagement
  • Effectiveness of community resources in relation to self and community development
  • The responsibility of the individual and group in supporting/facilitating community learning and development
Innovative teaching methodologies place students’ learning styles, and needs at the core of the teaching and learning activity.
Course assessments involve critical thinking, reflection and are based on practice, assignments are transformatory and are personally applicable to the students’ workplace.
This course is an established standard for Peer Support Workers employed in the HSE.

We have a unique and vibrant culture on our modern campus close to Dublin city centre. We provide state-of-the-art study facilities for all our courses and everything else you need for a healthy, fun and active student life.

We have three academic campuses close to Dublin City centre - they are located in Glasnevin and Drumcondra, and can be reached by public transport (Dublin Bus).

Each campus has libraries, study spaces, restaurants, and on-campus residencies. Sports facilities are located on two of the academic campuses. We also have a dedicated sports campus in the form of St Claire’s. 


Exceptional facilities

DCU students have access to exceptional teaching and learning facilities across our three academic campuses. 

These include modern learning theatres, research centres, new media and TV studio, radio/podcast studios, classrooms, computer suites and advanced labs in the areas of languages, engineering, physics, chemistry and biotechnology, as well as a sports performance centre and training hospital ward. In 2021, we opened our first virtual reality ‘Leadership Lab’, which is located in our Business School.

Construction on our FutureTech building on the Glasnevin campus will get underway in 2022. Once completed, this facility will advance DCU’s international reputation for excellence in science and health, computing and engineering disciplines. It will have the capacity to accommodate an additional 3,000 STEM students on the university’s Glasnevin campus.


Campus life

DCU student facilities boast a fully equipped sports complex with a 25-metre pool, three libraries and The Helix, our renowned performing arts centre.

Our purpose built, state-of-the-art new student centre known as 'The U' serves the needs of a rapidly growing student body of 18,500. It is home to the Student Leadership and Lifeskills Centre, performing arts and cultural spaces for students and the wider community, and the Entrepreneurship and Innovation Hub.

DCU Students' Union and the Office of Student Life are also based in the U. The centre is a space for students where they can meet, with lots of charging points and isolation booths. Clubs and socs avail of meeting rooms here and it's also home to DCUFM. NuBar, Londis and the Venue are also located here.

There are more than 140 clubs and societies for students in DCU, with ‘Clubs & Socs’ days taking place on both the Glasnevin and Drumcondra campuses at the start of the academic year.


Student Supports

We have a number of academic, professional and social supports for students.

Student Advice Centre: Offers a wide range of supports and services to students and advice 

The Writing Centre - drop-in writing workshops for students through the academic year 

Maths Learning Centre - provides maths support for students of all ability levels with maths modules 

Student Learning: facilitate the transition from passive to active learning for students at DCU, by teaching study skills, nurturing critical thinking and building student confidence. 

Careers work with students to help them on their professional journey into graduate employment.

Our student support team offers a comprehensive support programme, helping students make that all important transition into university life and focusing on building confidence and skills which are key to success at third level.


"The Peer Support course in DCU equipped me with the knowledge and experience needed to fulfill the role of a PSW. I found the learning engaging and interactive each time we had class and there was always support on hand from the lectures. It’s a course where you will learn new skills, new knowledge and have a new found perspective on the area of Mental Health. If you are looking to gain insight into becoming a Peer Support worker, I would highly recommend the Certificate in DCU". Cillian Keane


"This course made me stop and think about how we all have a part to play in our community. It made me consider marginalised people and how societal norms subtly exclude "others". I learned about my own strengths and weaknesses and how I can support others throughout the process of Recovery- which is a journey without a final destination". Anne Burke


"The class environment was very welcoming, and the teaching style was better than anything I had ever experienced. It is just amazing how much I have developed over the year”. Karol Gairbheith

It prepared me in multiple ways such as in gaining an understanding of HSE structures and both national and international policy on mental health. The most important learning, which gave me confidence in my own views, was that the course work and theory underpinned my own knowledge and confirmed what I expected peer work to be. It reminded of the limits of the bio-medical approach and how I would have liked a peer to have been available to provide emotional, practical and social support when I used services myself. I found the course personally challenging, it was tough going, but spending time, working with and hearing so many other peers views and experiences made me realise there is more than one way to support a person experiencing distress. HSE Peer Support Worker

In addition to improving your knowledge and competence in working and developing practice in this area, you’ll enhance your professional profile. You’ll broaden your career horizons, to include the areas of:

  • Peer Advocacy
  • Peer Education
  • Healthcare
  • Recovery 


General Entry Requirements

Peer Support Workers will have a previous history of mental health problems and be in recovery or recovered. Family Peer Support Workers will have experience of supporting someone with mental health problems. Potential students will be interviewed prior to commencement of the programme. This process will provide an opportunity for DCU staff to review the educational academic entry point of the student and apply RPL guidelines.

In addition to ‘expertise by experience’ and ‘family supporter experience’ there are a number of entry criteria:

  • A copy of Passport.
  • Evidence of critical thinking, literacy, communication/writing skills at level 5 NFQ. This can be in the form of formal qualifications (e.g. Leaving Certificate) or the equivalent
  • Where applicants do not have formal level 5 NFQ qualifications they will be assessed through Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL)
  • All applicants are required to submit a personal statement detailing your experience and interest in the course. Your personal statement should be unique and tailored to the programme for which you are applying. Some guidelines on writing a personal statement can be found here:
  • Prospective Students must secure a placement  as a peer support worker or a family peer support worker for 19 hours a week (paid or unpaid) for the duration of the course (September - April). The placement can be in a voluntary or statutory services but there must be a placement supervisor to support the peer support worker while engaging in peers support work. 
  • Applicants must include a signed form from a person in your organisation who will supervise you for the duration of this course.

Fees for the September 2022 intake are set at €2,000. For further details on fees, please contact the Fees Officeon 01 700 5875 or

If you have any questions when applying for this course please contact  Martha Griffin for information and guidance

Certificate in Peer Support Working in Mental Health


Full time

EU Status Fee

Next Steps

Make an Application

Prospective students must contact the programme chair by email, in advance of making an application to discuss their suitability for this programme.

To apply for this programme:

Please submit:

  • Personal statement (1000 words) outlining your reasons for applying.
  • Letter from your employer stating that when the course commences in September 2022 and for the duration of the course you will be working at least 19 hours a week (this can be paid or unpaid) in a peer support role.  (If you are in receipt of a carers payment please contact the Programme Chair Martha Griffin.
  • Include a signed form from a person in your organisation who will supervise you for the duration of this course (See this link).
  • Evidence of critical thinking, literacy, communication/writing skills at level 5 NFQ. This can be in the form of formal qualifications (e.g. Leaving Certificate) or the equivalent

Please note if you are a non EU student and require a study visa, you are not eligible to apply for part-time programmes as study visas are only granted for full-time programmes.

Application Deadlines

Applications will be accepted on a rolling basis until the programme is full or until the following dates:

  • Closing date for EU and non EU applicants is 19th August 2022.


Queries from EU applicants should be directed to

Commencement of Programme

The programme commences in September 2022.