Information for Staff
Peer Wellbeing Support (PWS) exists for students to support their peers with the many issues which they may face throughout university life. It allows students to access a non-judgemental and confidential space to talk. The supporters are recruited, trained and supervised by PWS staff who are all qualified counsellors and psychotherapists. However, this service is not counselling and nor do the supporters receive a mental health qualification. We are building on academic evidence and the success of peer support programmes elsewhere in the sector, including evaluation throughout the process. Several universities in the UK are now trialling various forms of peer support following the increase of supporting evidence of its effectiveness.
Peer Wellbeing Support is part of the university’s mental health strategy. It is an early intervention listening service for common problems such as stress, anxiety, isolation, loneliness, making friends, relationship problems, homesickness, academic concerns etc.
Anyone can signpost students to the Peer Wellbeing Support booking page. As the service is not yet university wide, students should access support through their school/college. Students can find all relevant information on Peer Wellbeing Support through our homepage.
If students are experiencing anything more than mild mental health issues, for example if their problems are affecting their daily life or they have a diagnosed mental health issue, then they should be advised to seek support through Counselling & Psychological Services.
Why Peer Wellbeing Support is Important
"The student experience is unique...leaving home, moving country, academic and financial pressures..However it is this shared experience of a specific set of circumstances that places the student community in a good positon to deliver valuable peer support models" (Byrom & Gulliver, 2016)
There is evidence to suggest that the majority of university students in the UK would prefer to approach peers for help in the first instance (Pitman Sharpington, Stock & Cage, 2019).
Student populations report higher levels of subjective psychological distress and poor mental health compared to the general population, with approximately 1 in 3 undergraduates experiencing mental health problems. Accessing early intervention support could prevent a more severe mental health issue developing. Sessions are booked ad-hoc, meaning students will not have to wait too long for help.
Thomas (2012) proposed that peer support has specific benefits that contribute to helping students to remain and be successful in Higher Education:
- Promote academic integration and belonging
- Develop students’ confidence as learners in HE
- Improve students’ motivation to study and succeed
- Offer a source of academic help and enable students to cope with their academic study
- Share tacit knowledge, such as module choice and how to prepare for assessments
- Provide emotional support
- Offer practical support
- Allow students to compare themselves against others and gain reassurance
History of Peer Wellbeing Support
Peer Wellbeing Support at the University of Glasgow was initially a joint initiative with the School of Veterinary Medicine and Counselling & Psychological Service (CaPS) in 2014. Following its initial success, PWS has grown into its own service within Student Life. Over 100 students have been trained to date and PWS has a presence in all colleges within the university.
Peer Wellbeing Support has been shortlisted on two occasions for excellence in the following categories in the Herald Higher Education Awards: Supporting Student Wellbeing (2019) and Outstanding Support to Students (2017).
To date our Peer Wellbeing Supporters have held many successful events in their Schools to raise awareness of Peer Support and mental health/wellbeing for example: ‘Feel Good February’, ‘Throwback Thursday’ and guest lectures from alumni and staff on ‘Mental Health and Challenging Professions’. Peer Wellbeing Supporters are regularly involved in Induction activities for new students. Peer Wellbeing Supporters have also invited ‘Therapets’ and ‘Paws for Thought’ to visit students on the campus during exam time and have discussed the benefits of using Peer Wellbeing Support at ‘The 1st Adam Smith Gala’ (2018) which showcased student-led activities within the School of Business.
We are always happy to chat to staff, attend meetings or deliver presentations about Peer Wellbeing Support. Please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org