UofT St. George has some pretty fantastic student programming on campus, and opportunities to connect with resources. I think its particularly great that students who are seeking help are given autonomy and choice, and flexibility in health care options.
This week, I had the chance to chat with Peers are Here program coordinator, Adam, about the peer groups he helps to run, what you can expect from a session, and why he is passionate about this project.
What is Peers are Here?
Peers are Here is a drop-in space for primarily undergraduate (but also graduate!) students, where you can come talk about anything that’s on your mind, whether that’s life stuff or an assignment that’s stressing you out. The drop-in nature makes it non-committal, and there is no registration process or appointment necessary. Essentially, it is a mental health support group with a goal to increase peer support on campus to by-pass the waitlist for counsellors on campus. It’s a space for when you need to get something off your chest. It’s not a professional context, but everything remains confidential within the group of trained peer support team members.
Who is part of the team?
We have two teams, one for engineering students and one for life science students. Each group session is facilitated by two members of the peer support team, which is a mix of undergraduate and graduate students in the faculty that the group represents. The benefit of this is that if you are having trouble with an assignment, or a professor, or the workload or the stresses associated with the program, the team member who you will talk to will have gone through similar experiences.
If you are not part of that faculty you are still welcome to attend that group, its not restricted to being an engineering student or being in a life science program.
What type of training do peer support team member participate in?
Student facilitators take part in training that focuses on facilitating groups and dealing with crisis. We learn how to deal with students who are in danger of harming themselves, how to connect students to other resources, and how to maintain decentred and facilitate a conversation—rather than just telling students what to do.
What can you expect at one of the sessions?
The sessions take place in accessible spaces, and the groups are anywhere from 5 to 10 students in attendance. These spaces are small and intimate, but never one-on-one– spaces where students can come and talk about anything. Importantly, you don’t have to know what you want to talk about to show up. If you think that you are having a hard time and you might benefit, or even just feel better, by talking and getting stuff out there, hearing your own thoughts and having your thoughts heard. You can just come, see what what happens. The Peers are Here team can help teach wellness strategies for stress management, or help find hobbies and clubs on campus. If this is not the proper resource for you, we can connect you to the right resources.
What interested you in being part of the Peers are Here team, Adam?
I’m studying social work, so this goes along with my professional interests. I think that the student community is where a lot of mental health issues start, in adolescence and young adulthood. So addressing issues, and creating available supports at that time is really important to me. I want to be part of a team that works toward that goal.
Thank you Adam
So, what’s on your mind? Your Peers are Here for you!