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Training for peer supporters and staff

Training for peer supporters and staff

Best practice involves having peer supporters gain access to a training program taught by a peer support organization, with customizations made specifically for the campus environment. Having a campus representative collaborate on the development of the training is ideal, as the representative can share insight into the specific scenarios or student challenges that most prominently arise within the campus environment. It is also important the training developer is familiar with the specific
tasks expected of the peer supporters, the policies and practices that will be put in place to provide support, and what additional trainings (if any) to which the peer supporters may gain access following the initial training program. At minimum, the specific peer support training programs should cover content including:
Training for Peer Supporters

  • Principles and values of peer support
  • Competencies of peer support workers
  • Self-care and personal responsibility
  • Boundaries with participants
  • Person-centred support
  • Working as part of an interdisciplinary team
  • Trauma-informed peer support
  • Power dynamics
  • Interpersonal communication skills
  • Cultural competency and anti-oppressive practice

Generally, robust peer support training should involve at least 24 hours of peer support-specific content.

In addition to a structured peer support training program, it is beneficial to equip peer support staff with both skill-specific and population-specific training. These trainings should be determined by the student populations that exist within the campus and the specific needs of these students. Here are some trainings that may be recommended for peer supporters:

  • General mental health literacy (such as More Feet on the Ground)
  • safeTALK
  • Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training (ASIST)
  • Trauma-informed peer support[1]Trauma Informed Peer Support – Centre for Excellence in Peer Support
  • Indigenous populations
  • LGBTQ2S+ populations
  • Group facilitation

Training can either be done in-house or through an external organization (such as Ontario Peer Development Initiative, Mood Disorder Association of Ontario, Stella’s Place or Centre for Excellence in Peer Support). Internal training can also focus on mental health resources on and off campus so peer supporters can be equipped to adequately refer students to additional services. Please note there may be fees involved for some of the trainings mentioned in this guide.

Refer for Appendix E for a sample training outline.

Guide: PDF Version