With the growing demand for comprehensive mental health services in higher education, students and campus leaders have identified student peer support programs as an alternative or supplement to traditional clinical services and approaches. However, this trend has been met with concerns from administrators, campus leaders, and students on issues including providing adequate training for students and ensuring students are prepared to respond to mental health crises.
To address this gap, this paper shares the results of a survey of 85 participants and leaders in college mental health peer support programs in addition to five one-hour interviews with selected survey respondents. It then combines survey and interview findings with available resources and information developed and led by peers or peer-run organizations.
Recommendations to advance college peer support programs include:
- Elevating student and lived experience leadership.
- Ensuring adequate and comprehensive peer support training.
- Prioritizing trauma-informed and human rights-focused approaches to mental health crises.
- Investing in the future of college peer support and the broader mental health ecosystem.