Peer Support On Campus: Practical Tools to Get Started

Informal peer support occurs naturally within a post-secondary campus environment. Students connect with their peers, relationships are formed, and young adults often turn to peers during times of need. Empowering students and utilizing the abilities they have in supporting one another effectively provides an opportunity for creating peer programs that are an effective intervention for individuals coping with mental health conditions. Furthermore, utilizing the student body to support campus mental health may help to alleviate the pressures that are placed on existing campus mental health supports. The presenters will highlight the benefits of peer support on campus, the specifics of implementing such programs in a post-secondary setting and how collaborations with other partners can help campuses get started with their peer support program. You will also be guided through the journey of an Ontario post-secondary institution who successfully implemented peer support, and hear their advice and lesson learned along the way. An overview of our new Campus Peer Support Toolkit will also be provided.

Presenters

Keely Phillips, MSW, is the Manager of the Centre for Excellence in Peer Support at CMHA Waterloo Wellington.  Keely has worked in peer support for 12 years and has authored many resources on peer support including a toolkit on supervising peer workers and an international charter defining mental health peer support. She has led the implementation of many peer support programs including the Peer Navigator program at Conestoga  College. Keely draws from her lived experiences of mental health issues in her peer support work.

Sean Connors holds the position of Student Wellness Coordinator at Mohawk College where his primary role is to aid in the development, implementation and oversight of wellness initiatives on campus. This includes coordinating a number of student and staff lead health promotion teams, including a new mentorship program developed to support students facing mental health issues. Previously, Sean worked as a Residence Life Coordinator for five years, where he played a pivotal role in supporting student mental health and well-being at Seneca College, Georgian College, and Mohawk College. Sean recently completed his Master of Education degree through Memorial University with a focus in post-secondary education.

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