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Certificate in Peer Support Working in Mental Health

Course Details

CAO Code:
Course Type:
NFQ Level:
NFQ Level
Delivery Modes
1 year
+353 (0) 1
700 7861

Would you like a career as a peer support worker or a family peer support worker?  Then this course is ideal for you.


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If you have personal experience of mental ill health or have supported others with lived experience of mental ill health, you’ll find this course will challenge and broaden your perspective on mental health and peer support. It will also help you enhance your existing strengths, so you can make a greater impact in your work.  

This course includes a placement of 19 hours a week during the year, so that you get practical real-world experience and can apply what you are learning at DCU.  Once you complete this course, you’ll be qualified to work as a peer support worker, a family peer support worker, some students also work as a peer educators or peer advocates. 

Gaining vital knowledge and skills
During the course and through cooperative learning methods, you’ll gain key knowledge and skills in the practice, policy and models of peer support, while also studying models of mental health,  human rights, power, trauma and community community. 

You’ll also examine the latest national and international trends and developments in recovery-oriented mental health practice. You’ll also learn more about how the Irish mental health service works, along with the principles of the individualised nature of recovery and a person-centred approach. Throughout, you’ll engage with reflective practice, supervision and support structures in the way you would in professional peer support work.

Students can apply for the Tony Leahy grant from Mental Health Ireland

DCU People

Profile picture of Will Dwyer-Joyce
Will Dwyer-Joyce

Will Dwyer-Joyce finally found the university experience he wanted with DCU’s Certificate in Peer Support - and says the course has given him greater confidence.

Read more about Will Dwyer-Joyce
Shows Martha Griffin
Martha Griffin

I’ve always had an interest in social justice, equality and striving for a better world. While I completed a Bachelor of Legal Studies and Taxation, the legal profession was not for me.

Read more about Martha Griffin
Profile picture of Julie Dukes
Julie Duke

Julie Duke returned to education as a mature student, and says her DCU course 'was the making of me and helped me in more ways than one'.

Read more about Julie Duke

Careers & Further Options

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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

DCU graduates are highly sought after by employers. Our Graduates work in environments ranging from large multinationals to SMEs, family businesses and start-ups across every sector.

DCU Careers Service has a number of learning and development initiatives in place for our students, giving them the skills they need for a successful career path.

Go to our Careers site to find out more about career planning, our mentorship programme, skills development and online resources for students when working on CVs and making applications.

Entry Requirements

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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:

  • 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 (1000 words) 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. 
  • A copy of Identification
  • Due to the specialist nature of this programme, additional criteria may be used to assess suitability to undertake this programme. For further information, please contact the Programme Chair using the contact details above.


Course Structure

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The Certificate consists of three modules delivered on a part-time basis over two semesters. The course involves attendance in two-day blocks during the semester (sixteen days in total) and ten days’ online work.

You will study the following topics:

  • Practical ways to support people with mental health problems in recovery and their family members
  • The role of peer support workers in a multidisciplinary approach to mental health service provision
  • Health Service Executive rules and standards for all mental health workers
  • How mental health policy and practice have evolved to their present-day standards
  • How we measure recovery in relation to contemporary standards of mental health care and in relation to the rights of people with disabilities and their families
  • Different philosophies of psychology, sociology and community development in relation to self and to how groups function
  • Different styles of leadership among people with different levels of decision-making skills
  • How to take the lead in working with groups or communities? 
  • How to make best use of community resources to achieve personal and community development
  • How individuals and groups each play their part in helping communities to develop
  • Personal Growth and Community Engagement 
  • Peer Support Practice 
  • Peer Support in Mental Health

For more information on the course structure click here

Fees and Funding

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EU Status Fee Part-time
Non EU Fee Part time

How To Apply

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To apply for this programme:

All Applicants must apply through DCU's Student Application Portal which is
available here. Here's a quick step by step guide  if you need help with your application.

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:

Closing date for EU applicants is 31st July 2024.

Commencement of Programme

The programme commences in September 2024.

Life On Campus

Life on Campus
DCU Campus Glasnevin

DCU Glasnevin Campus


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