Request for Proposals: Youth Peer Support in Integrated Youth Services

Request for Proposals: Youth Peer Support in Integrated Youth Services
Closing Date: April 5th, 2019


Adolescence and young adulthood is a vulnerable time for the development of mental health disorders. For example, compared with other age groups, Canadian youth report the highest rates of mood disorders (8.2%) and substance use disorders (11.9%) (Pearson, Janz, & Ali, 2012) and suicide is the second leading cause of death in young people (Bennett et al., 2015). Ten years from now, mental illness is projected to be one of the five most common causes of morbidity, mortality and disability among Canadian youth (Manion, 2010). In addition, in one American study, researchers identified that less than one third of youth access the mental health services they need (Merikangas et al., 2011).

Peer support in mental health is a promising practice that involves the promotion of wellbeing through the development of a supportive relationship between two individuals with lived experience of a mental health issue (Sunderland & Mishkin, 2013) – specifically, between an individual in recovery and a trained peer supporter. While evidence regarding adult peer support for mental health is available and several recent reviews have been conducted (Cabassa, Camacho, Vélez-Grau, & Stefancic, 2017; Chinman et al., 2014; Lloyd-Evans et al., 2014), youth peer support is less well understood (Gopalan, Lee, Harris, Acri, & Munson, 2017; Kirsch et al., 2014; Ontario Centre of Excellence for Child and Youth Mental Health, 2013).

Peer supports have been identified as a component of many integrated youth services (IYS) (Hetrick et al., 2017). IYS take a collaborative approach to the provision of multiple services with the objective of providing a more comprehensive response to client needs (Settipani, Cleverley, Hawke, Rice, & Henderson, 2017) and many IYS models incorporate peer support for youth. Research demonstrates that peers have a more critical influence during the developmental period of youth and young adulthood (Patton et al., 2016). Further evidence suggests that peer support programs may create positive change through the reduction of stigma (Alvarez-Jimenez, Gleeson, Rice, Gonzalez-Blanch, & Bendall, 2016; Barton & Henderson, 2016; Blixen et al., 2015). Furthermore, researchers have identified that youth with mental health concerns are more likely to either suffer in silence or—if they do share their concerns—share their mental health concerns with peers rather than anyone else (Davidson & Manion, 1996). Youth peer support services have proliferated across youth service settings and address specific developmental issues of adolescence and emerging adulthood, however there is very little rigorous research examining the impact and effectiveness of youth peer support services (Gopalan et al., 2017). Gopalan and colleagues conducted a scoping review of US studies to identify models and outcomes, but Canadian and international models have not been well examined.

Frayme is an international network that connects mental health, health, and social services working with youth and young adults to accelerate the integration and implementation of youth care around the world. Together with partners, Frayme is working towards a world in which all youth, young adults, and their families have access to the help they need to be well, when they need it, in the context in which they live. To achieve this vision and mission, Frayme gathers and shares evidence from research, practice, and lived experience; connects people and organizations; and supports practice and policy change to spark transformation in youth mental health and substance use care systems.

Project Scope

Frayme is interested in better understanding the various models of youth peer support, their effectiveness and core features, and the impact that effective youth peer support can have in integrated youth services (IYS).

To that end, Frayme would like to support a project that aims to:

  • identify key players implementing youth peer support around the world
  • highlight research and examples (from research, practice, and lived experience) of youth peer support implementation internationally
  • identify existing models of peer support, which directly involve youth peers, and adult models that may have implications for youth peer support, including:
    • understanding which models have been evaluated and/or have data available to demonstrate their effectiveness (including for whom, and in which contexts), as well as metrics for fidelity to those models
    • highlighting specific outcomes of effective youth peer support models (e.g. perception of helpfulness, improvement of symptoms, etc.)
    • identifying core features of effective models (e.g., implementation and evaluation of training curricula, attributes and abilities of peers, nature of peer-to-peer relationship, etc.)
    • understanding experiences of youth peer support workers and youth receiving peer support
  • understand the role and unique impact of youth peer support in IYS
  • outline the peer support challenges or considerations when working with youth, in the context of IYS (e.g. supporting youth peer support workers to transition out of youth peer support work – and into other opportunities – as they ‘age out’)
  • outline the operational implications and resources required for effective youth peer support in IYS (e.g. salaries, tools)
  • Identify optimal training and supervision models to support effective youth peer support
  • provide decision support to stakeholders regarding which peer support model to select and how to ensure fidelity

Preliminary List of Key Considerations and Dimensions of the Issues

Within the scope of the deliverables (outlined in the following section), the contractor will be expected to address key considerations and dimensions of youth peer support within the mental health and substance use systems, including but not limited to:

  • Availability of evidence for/against youth peer support in general and in IYS (process and outcomes)
  • Resources required to support and facilitate the implementation and evaluation of youth peer support in IYS
  • Potential risks/harms and mitigating factors or strategies to prevent and overcome them
  • Range of experiences of youth peer support within different cultures and communities


  • 1 page summary of the proposal
  • 1 page summary of the findings
  • Knowledge synthesis (e.g., systematic review, scoping review) conducted addressing evidence available regarding all elements of the project identified under the heading Project Scope (to be published on
  • Environmental scan (which may include community mapping and/or surveying networks and community organizations in search of unpublished examples)
  • Knowledge mobilization plan (i.e. recommendations to mobilize this knowledge and thereby reduce the knowledge-to-practice gap in youth services)
  • 1-2 Frayme webinars related to the project
  • Evaluation framework (i.e. recommendations on how to evaluate the mobilization of this knowledge)
  • A practical decision support resource

Proposals and Budget

Proposals will be accepted until April 5th, 2019 and should be developed using Frayme’s Project Proposal template. Proposals should include the following:

  • A statement of how the project will be undertaken (maximum 5 pages), including
    • The rationale for the knowledge synthesis, including relevant background literature and a description of the contribution of the project to integrated youth services
    • The methods for the knowledge synthesis.
    • Timeline for the synthesis and knowledge mobilization, including milestones and deliverables
  • A description of the team including their relevant expertise (i.e., abbreviated 4-page CVs which outlines current position, areas of expertise, training, and activities in the related field).  NOTE: A Frayme Leadership Team member shall be offered an opportunity to join the project team at the proposal development stage to ensure conceptual contribution to the project and alignment with Frayme vision, mission, and values.
  • A detailed budget
  • A proposed plan for engaging youth and families including Frayme’s Advisory on Youth Matters (AYM), Family Advisory, and/or youth peer supporters

Frayme’s contribution to this project shall be a maximum of $50,000 (including GST, PST, and HST, where applicable), with the understanding that these funds may be leveraged for increased funding from other sources and/or supplemented with in-kind contributions.

Additionally, successful applicants:

  • May access the broad reach of Frayme’s network
  • Will be receive consideration for future related projects.

The contract will be issued by Frayme.

Evaluation Criteria

Proposals will be evaluated based on the project team’s demonstration of the following criteria:

  • Strong academic background in mental health and substance use
  • Demonstrated history of developing and implementing peer supports within youth-focused services
  • Demonstrated intent to meaningfully engage youth and families throughout the project
  • Adequate human resource capacity to meet identified timelines
  • Ability to complete the project within the available budget
  • Demonstrated expertise related to the evaluation of knowledge mobilization efforts


Please refer to the Project Proposal Review Template for the full criteria by which proposals will be evaluated.

Please send proposals to Paula Robeson (

Review Process

To assist us in accomplishing our mission and to leverage the knowledge and expertise of our partners, Frayme occasionally issues Requests for Proposals via open calls to the network. To be eligible to respond to an RFP, one must be a Frayme partner.

To join the network and become a Frayme partner, click here.

These open calls are shared via Frayme’s communications channels, including via our Frayme of Mind newsletter. The newsletter is shared with all partners that have subscribed to receive Frayme updates.

To subscribe to receive Frayme’s newsletter and other updates, click here.

All eligible proposals are reviewed by Frayme’s Leadership Team. Once approved by the Leadership Team, proposals are reviewed by the Knowledge Mobilization Committee, a sub-committee of our Board of Directors. Following each of these reviews, Frayme may contact the project lead with questions or suggestions for revision. Once the successful proposal has been selected the Project Lead will be contacted by the Frayme Secretariat.

Please note:

In the event that products (e.g., presentations, publications, and knowledge mobilization or implementation tools or resources) are (or are intended to be) created through this project:

    a) Frayme shall be acknowledged in or included among the authorship of any product resulting from this work, as appropriate; and

    b) IP and authorship shall be discussed in advance and included in the contract between Frayme and the appropriate signing authority for the successful proposal.


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