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Wellness Peer Programs at University of Toronto Scarborough

Peer Support Group Flyer

Description of program

In 2019, the Health & Wellness Centre at University of Toronto Scarborough (UTSC) implemented a peer support program. The peer support program at UTSC provides a safe space for students to share their lived experiences in a facilitated group setting with trained student peers who have their own lived experiences of mental health. Groups are held Tuesdays and Fridays at the Health & Wellness Centre. The program is overseen by Health & Wellness Centre staff and a Mood Disorders Association of Ontario (MDAO) staff member.

Recruitment process

Student peer supporters were selected through an interview process with the Health & Wellness Centre and MDAO. References were collected and reviewed as part of this process. Seven student volunteers were selected as peer supporters. Please refer to Appendix C for the job description of student peer supporter at University of Toronto Scarborough.

Training requirements

Volunteer peer supporters underwent several areas of training: an online sexual violence education and training module; More Feet on the Ground (online mental health training); the student affairs student staff (SASS) training (five-hour classroom training); Hope and Me peer support skills training (a four-day intensive training on peer support skills); and safeTALK (a three-hour presentation on suicide alertness and skills to assess suicide risk).

Further to the initial training, the peer supporters are required to debrief following each peer support session with a Health & Wellness Centre staff member. They are also required to attend biweekly community of practice meetings for peer consultation, as supervised by a Health & Wellness Centre staff member and staff member from MDAO.

Program funding

The peer support program has been funded through the Health & Wellness Centre, which has supplied training, consultation and promotion materials for the program. Further, the work study program at the University of Toronto Scarborough approved seven work study positions to support the program.

Program integration

Several steps have been taken to integrate the peer support program at UTSC:

[1]

Health & Wellness Centre staff: staff were educated on the new initiative and trained in how to provide referrals to the peer support program

[2]

Promotion: posters and postcards were designed by the communications team and dispersed across campus to promote this new initiative

[3]

Outreach initiatives: the peer supporters have been active at student and campus events as a way of interacting with other students and spreading the word about this program and the Health & Wellness Centre’s Wellness Peer Programs has also engaged in walkabouts to promote the program with students across campus

[4]

Social media: the peer supporters have created social media platforms for their program and promote the drop-in hours and volunteers on these sites

[5]

Health & Wellness Centre website/social media: peer support program information has been added to the Health & Wellness Centre’s website to promote the program to students and the Health & Wellness Centre’s social media channels have shared information about the program

[6]

E-listservs: the program has created a listserv of students who have expressed interest in getting e-updates about the group, and other mental health listservs have also shared information about the program through their networks
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