About this Guide

Informal peer support occurs naturally within a post-secondary campus environment. Students connect with their peers, relationships are formed and young adults often turn naturally to peers during times of need. This natural support is important to build upon, given the known increase in and onset of mental health challenges that are associated with the post-secondary student age group and the difficult transitions that are present in this environment. Post-secondary campuses often struggle to keep up with the demand for mental health support expressed by their students. Empowering students and utilizing the abilities they have in supporting one another effectively is an opportunity that should be pursued. There is a growing body of evidence[1]In It Together: Taking Action on Student Mental Health – Colleges Ontario, Council of Ontario Universities, College Student Alliance, Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance[2]The Value of Peer Support – CMHA Waterloo Wellington that supports peer programs being an effective intervention for individuals coping with mental health challenges. This evidence, in conjunction with naturally-occurring peer support on campus, makes the implementation and sustainability of formalized peer support programs a vital solution to the mental health demands that young adults are facing within a post-secondary setting.

This resource is a guide for front-line staff and leadership on campus – including counsellors, administrators and other decision-makers at post-secondary institutions – considering the development of their own peer support program on campus. This guide provides tips and recommendations on:

  • How to prepare for your peer support program and make the case for your executives on campus
  • How to recruit, train and supervise peer supporters
  • How to operate and evaluate your peer support program

The ideas and considerations of this guide aim to provide a broad structure to identify common trends between different models of peer support. However, the ideas and considerations in this guide may not be relevant or feasible for all campuses. Every peer support program is different, which reflects the diverse needs of different campus populations.

Guide: PDF Version