Training to Become a Peer Wellbeing Supporter
Peer Wellbeing Supporters are student volunteers who provide emotional and practical support to their peers in a confidential setting. They are recruited, trained and supervised by university staff, who are qualified counsellors and psychotherapists. The service experienced significant growth over the 2019/20 session as it developed into more areas of the university. There has never been a more exciting time to join the community of Peer Wellbeing Supporters!
Peer Wellbeing Supporters are there to listen, support and occasionally signpost students to different university services. Supporters are not trained counsellors or mental health specialists.
What are the benefits of becoming a Peer Wellbeing Supporter?
Here are just some examples of what can be gained through the role:
- Make a valuable contribution to the wellbeing of your peers
- Improve listening skills
- Improve communication skills, self-awareness and emotional intelligence
- Grow in confidence, self-esteem and feel empowered
- Meet new people and become part of a community
- Improve your own wellbeing - research has shown that helping others helps your own mental health
- Gain skills which will make you more employable
- Higher Education Achievement Report (HEAR) recognition on your graduation transcript
Here are a few things our Peer Wellbeing Supporters had to say:
"We’ve talked about the awareness of different resources, and being made aware of myself also just makes me help myself more, and know where I can go for support. So that helps positively towards my mental health, and my general well-being as well."
"It's been my favourite experience at university so far."
"When I think that I’m potentially in a negative mind-set, I’ll realise myself I’m in it and I’ll know ways that I can make myself feel better. It’s given me confidence in myself."
"I’m naturally a person that would really invest in other people’s issues, and I’ve always been like that….I’ve realised that it ends up affecting me. So being able to separate my own mental well-being with someone else’s has been a big thing for me, and I’ve used that in so many different situations."
What can you expect from training?
Training consists of a 27-hour, evidence-based programme, usually delivered over 9 weeks via 3-hour sessions. Our delivery method will be dependent on COVID-19 guidance at that time and we are fully set up to train online. Groups are kept consistent over the entire programme, as a focus on group cohesion and trust is essential.
Training is delivered in a confidential, safe and informal environment in small groups. Whilst there is input from trainers, there is an emphasis on learning from each other through sharing ideas and reflections. You can expect to learn about active listening, displaying empathy appropriately, verbal and non-verbal behaviour, questioning styles, crisis intervention, suicide awareness and confidentiality. Furthermore, a significant element of the training is increasing self-awareness. Feedback from students has shown how much personal development has occurred through the training programme.
How much time should be dedicated to the role?
Once trained, you should be able to dedicate two hours a week to your role. This may be to provide face to face or online support, or to carry out some admin tasks to maintain the successful running of Peer Wellbeing Support in your college. Furthermore, there is mandatory fortnightly two hour group supervision run by trained counsellors and psychotherapists, which allow you to receive guidance and develop your skills. Please have a think about whether you would be able to dedicate the necessary time to this role before applying.
Is any previous experience needed?
There is no specific experience you must have to apply. The most important thing is a genuine interest in helping others and a willingness to learn. However, please note any personal or professional experience which you think is relevant.
Who can apply to become a Peer Wellbeing Supporter?
We welcome applications from all areas of the university. The only requirements are:
- You are in second year or above
- Once trained, you have at least six months left on your course
- You have an interest in learning how to listen and support your peers
There are usually intakes twice a year for new supporters to begin training in October or January. Interested students should look out for recruitment updates from their school/college. If you would like any more information, please email firstname.lastname@example.org