Peer-to-Peer Support: How Can It Help College Students?
Going off to school can be a challenging time for many students. With this transition period in their lives, it's essential not to forget about their mental health needs.
According to a recent study, the number of students living with significant mental health issues is increasing amongst campuses and universities. Anxiety, depression, and relationship issues are the top presenting problems.
What's the solution? Peer-to-peer support can help students deliver more support to more students struggling with emotional challenges.
What is peer support?
Peer support is a kind of encouragement, advice, and emotional help given by someone who has experienced similar issues to what you or your teen are currently going through. They've 'been there done that' so to speak and can provide a unique perspective from someone who gets what you're going through.
Similar to the benefits of working with a professional counselor, one of the primary advantages of peer support is the genuine relationships formed as a result. In peer-to-peer support, shared experiences serve a common foundation on which the relationship is formed. Many times, peer support can turn into lifelong friendships outside of a group setting.
What is a peer-to-peer support group?
Peer support is about conversation, dialog, and mutual understanding. Peer support groups are safe and confidential environments to talk things through with people who share your experiences.
Peer support could be a professional relationship, but it could also come from a member of a therapy group, a friend met via online support forums, or even an already-established friend or family member. Depending on the setting, such as a mental health clinic or a college campus setting, peer support may or may not have professional training; the critical part is the honest and real shared experiences.
Peer support focuses primarily on assistance in daily management, social and emotional support, bridging the gap between individuals and community resources, and extended ongoing support over time.
What does peer support look like?
While peer support doesn't always have to be a professional service, it can take on many different forms, such as:
- Phone calls and text messaging
- Home visits
- Group therapy settings
- Doing planned activities together
Peer support programs include assistance in one-to-one and group settings, academic/educational help, new student aid, and other diverse activities of an interpersonal helping nature.
Peer support is intended to complement other forms of treatment. In addition to seeing a therapist or taking medication, peer support has effectively filled in the professional service gaps.
What does the research say?
Recent studies estimate that 20% to 36% of college students cope with some form of severe psychological distress, yet only about a third of them receive any services or support despite the fact they often have access to on-campus help.
The development of relational peer networks in schools can improve students' academic achievement and social support.
Students tend to have a way of creating trust and putting their peers at ease who may be struggling. They may be more open to talking to their peers than other adults, parents, or professionals. Knowing this, peer-to-peer supporters take the time to establish trust with one another to create a trusting, genuine connection.
Finding group counseling near you
By allowing you to experience a sense of belonging, group counseling can provide you with the structure and support you need to improve your situation. Our trained and compassionate staff is here to help. Contact us to learn more or call the facility near you to learn more.
Keywords: group therapy, substance abuse treatment, medicated substance abuse, group counseling