Implementing a peer support program for improving university student wellbeing: The experience of program facilitators

Dimity Crisp, Debra Rickwood, Bridgette Martin, Nicola Byrom

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Abstract

Peer support programs offer a promising approach to addressing the high levels of stress and psychological distress reported by university students. However, few studies have considered the impact of implemented programs on the wellbeing and skill development of student facilitators. This study examines the experiences of student facilitators of a guided peer support program for reducing and preventing stress and low mood in student participants. Benefits to student facilitators, anticipated and actual, include the development of skills and experience in group facilitation, and a greater sense of community and belonging. While challenges exist in establishing initiatives, peer support and mentoring programs can offer valuable benefits by increasing wellbeing and fostering skill development for both participants and student facilitators. It is important that university-based peer support programs consider the student facilitator experience in both program development and evaluation and ensure training addresses facilitator concerns, prepares students adequately for the role, and considers the benefits for individual professional development.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-23
Number of pages23
JournalAustralian Journal of Education
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 2020

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