The Counselling Centre

Peer Support

“Peer support is a system of giving and receiving help founded on key principles of respect, shared responsibility, and mutual agreement of what is helpful. Peer support is not based on psychiatric models and diagnostic criteria. It is about understanding another’s situation empathically through the shared experience of emotional and psychological pain.”

(Mead, Hilton & Curtis, 2001, p. 135)

What is Peer Support?

Peer Support happens in a relationship between people who have experiences in common. This could be a mental illness, stress or anxiety, a difficult time in life, or university adjustment. Peer Supporters offer their fellow students emotional and social support as they too have struggled.  This support is grounded in hope, empowerment, and recovery.

Peer Support focuses on health and recovery rather than on il

lness and disability. Supporters can help individuals move towards a greater sense of self-confidence and wellbeing.

All students are welcome to visit a Peer Supporter during drop-in hours. Peer Support can be an additional resource from students already seeking treatment as well as a safe, confidential space for students to talk to a trained peer. 

Who are my Peer Supporters?

Peer Supporters are students who have experience dealing with mental health concerns. These students are trained within the Stay Connected Mental Health Project and The Counselling Centre to support their peers through active listening, goal-setting, and resource referral. As students, Supporters understand how stressful university life can be. Peer Supporters are here to help with a lot of mental health concerns including managing stress, coping strategies, relationship problems, and referrals to other important resources.

Katherine Heim

picture of peer supporter

Katherine is in her fourth year here at St. Mary's. She is taking a double major in Criminology and Psychology. She is also the Vice President and Co-founder of the SMU Music society. In her free time, she is a singer songwriter, and loves anything that has to do with music. 

Reha Purdasy

Picture of Reha

My name is Reha. I am from Mauritius, a beautiful tropical island off the southeast coast of Africa. I am in my 4th year studying Biology at SMU. I really discovered my love for human biology in high school. It pushed me into self-learning since I was eager to learn more than what was being taught at school. I plan to go into the medical sciences to further explore my passion. I am also currently working for the SMU Residence Department as a Team Lead RSO and Training Module Developer. I enjoy going on road trips and nature adventures with my friends and family. Me-times, however, are my favorite! I deeply appreciate solo adventures and self-care. They are the best way for me to connect to myself and care for my mental health. In life, we are all leading different yet similar journeys. Peer supporting, for me, is all about telling each other ‘You got this and we believe in you’. 

Drew McCarthy

Picture of Drew

Drew is in his 4th year at St. Mary's majoring in Marketing. He is the Public Relations Director at the Sobey School of Business Commerce Society, and he is excited to recruit students to join the Commerce Society and other societies on campus. He hopes everyone gets involved with societies and groups that can enhance their skills, meet new people, give back to the community, and have an great overall experience at St. Mary's. You can find Drew hanging out in the library, the gym, or meeting people at a networking event. He believes looking to others for help is the best way to overcome adversity and runs by the motto "everything is going to be alright". 

When will the Peer Supporters start working?

The Peer Supporters will be available starting on Wednesday, September 5, 2018.

How can I see a Peer Supporter?

Peer Support is a free, confidential, drop-in service located on the first floor of the Student Centre (Room 106) in The Wellness Centre.

To contact a Peer Supporter, please email

To stay connected with us, please visit our Facebook page and follow us on Instagram.

Peer Support is not an emergency service. For Saint Mary’s University students requiring immediate assistance, please contact Morneau Shepell at 1-855-649-8641.