U of T has so many support services for students that it can be overwhelming to figure out what is what. From peer supporters to peer mentors to peer advisors, how many type of peers can you have?
I had the opportunity to speak with Mariana Paz-Soldan, and MSW student who assists in the operations of the Peer Support program at U of T, and was a former Peer Supporter herself. In our discussion, I discovered how Peer Support is an untapped U of T student service with real benefits.
So, what is Peer Support and why should you know about it? It’s a service run completely by students – graduate students with a background in Social Work. They run drop-in sessions for mental health support, academic, and general support for students’ needs. They connect you to various services according to your needs. This is a service under Health & Wellness.
Thinking about accessing counselling or finding mental health resources? Peer Support will do that for you: they’re like a human search engine for U of T (hi, Google!) With that said, they are not a counselling service but are available for whatever needs a student has. They can also assist you with academic and personal goals. Literally, you can come in with any concern and they can help you.
There’s many chat lines and supports available to students such as Good2Talk and MYSSP, so I asked Mariana how Peer Support compared – is it an on-going support, short-term? Peer Support is based on drop-in sessions so the nature of it is indeed short-term and students are always welcomed to come back as many times as they want. Unlike Peer Mentorship, however — which is based on a specific time-frame and focuses on building a relationship with your mentor — Peer Support is more general and not as focused on relationship-building with your Peer Supporter.
I think it’s a great service for accessing resources at U of T. They provide a safe space to share personal struggles and ultimately will aid you in them.
Peer Support is open to undergraduate and graduate students in Ontario only. Peer Supporters will refer out-of-province and international students to other services. They run their sessions virtually and students can talk to a Peer Supporter for as long as an hour – they can leave at any time, too.
If I could give advice to an incoming student, I would tell them to explore their school resources and that’s exactly what Peer Support is for.
Even if you’re not an Ontario student, you are still directed to a service that is available to you. Accessing support at U of T has changed my years of study here and significantly improved my student experience. I wholeheartedly encourage others to give it a shot.
To access Peer Support: https://studentlife.utoronto.ca/service/peer-support/