Transformation Directorate

A peer support-based e-health system to improve care and recovery

Support Hope and Recovery Online Network (SHaRON) is a peer support-based e-health system, available through a mobile phone app and associated website, which provides a safe digital space for service users, their peers, relatives and carers and the trust's clinical professions to talk at any time of the day or night.


Psychosocial interventions such as peer support are known to have a positive impact on recovery. However such support can be difficult to access especially out of ‘office hours’.


The aspiration was to transform and improve delivery of peer-based support to people with mental health issues and to provide a service that would also be available out of hours. SHaRON transforms out of hours mental health support by decreasing isolation and providing a safe platform for patients to access when needed.

Solution and impact

SHaRON is an app that can be accessed from mobile devices. It is a software solution that provides a digital platform for access to online help 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. This help takes the form of forums, videos and blogs and also allows real-time communication with peers and clinicians.


  • The SHaRON platform is a web-based mobile application and is fully responsive
  • It is hosted as a cloud-based service


The software provides a digital online help platform including 24/7 access to:

  • forums
  • videos from peers
  • blogs
  • communication with clinicians and experienced peers who can provide real-time commentary and support


SHaRON can be used across the health system and is currently deployed in the following service areas:

  • eating disorders
  • perinatal care
  • children and young people mental health services (CYPMHS)
  • learning disabilities
  • early intervention psychosis
  • relatives and carers
  • waiting list support

Key learning points

Successful implementation was relative to the service, for example, in eating disorders, blogging was effective, while in perinatal services, messaging and support through sending presents, and conversations on the walls and timelines, were most helpful.

Patient benefits

  • promotes recovery and self-management
  • offers patient choice and management in community close to home or at home
  • accessible online any time
  • tailored to disease-specific needs/considerations

Organisational benefits

  • reduces demand on community mental health teams, inpatient services and physical health teams
  • more efficient use of staffing
  • waiting time management
  • increased knowledge of staff using SHaRON (learning from service users and other moderators)

System benefits

  • reduces demand on primary and acute settings and social services
  • increased access to third-sector support and information in a timely manner

Other learning points

  • delivering SHaRON into services requires transformation and the service needs to be ready to support this transformation
  • transitioning a service onto the platform (from the start to being sustainable) is an 8-month programme of work
  • it is important to ensure there is a process of engagement with service senior leaders to gain full support. The SHaRON model was initially developed alongside the senior service leaders of the adult eating disorder service as a joint project. When rolling out into other services the eating disorder team would engage the service alongside the SHaRON project manager. Using a combination of clinical leadership and digital leadership with good evidence and data meant most services engaged quickly
  • it is important to ensure there is senior service leadership involvement in understanding project progression, as this is critical to adoption and roll out of the platform across the workforce
  • it is important that project meetings are attended and that there is good communication, ensuring key stakeholders are updated and actions are completed
  • planning is needed to ensure key players are available during the pre-live, go-live and post-live periods. (Consider all reasons for potential absence during these periods, such as end of year reporting, as well as typical absence such as leave)
  • it is important to ensure financial arrangements are in place

Key figures/quotes

Over 80% of SHaRON users agree that it has been helpful in their recovery.

As of June 2018, the service was supporting more than 2,500 members.

Find out more

Read case study: "Support Hope and Recovery Online Network" (An Online therapeutic network) (requires login)

Key contact

Dr Guy Northover, consultant child and adolescent psychiatrist, lead clinical director, chief clinical information officer, GIRFT national clinical lead CYPMH