Peer Programs

What is a peer, and why would I sign up for one?

A peer coach/mentor/supporter is a current SMU student who wants to help other students. They are someone you can talk to, ask questions, and get advice from who has been through similar experiences. They receive training to ensure that they can help guide you and refer you to professional supports if required. 

What is the difference between the peer programs, and why offer so many?

We have different types of peer-based programs so that you can select the ones that work best for you!

Peer Coaches are automatically assigned, meaning all first-year students will have access to a Peer Coach for the entire academic year. They help to support you in finding success as a first-year student. Learn more about Peer Coaches.

International Peer Mentors are by sign-up, meaning you can opt-in to have an International Peer Mentor. Like an instant social connection – someone to help you meet other students, get settled into Halifax and talk to about your questions and concerns. Learn more about International Peer Mentors.

Mental Health Peer Supporters run awareness events and programs to promote mental health and wellness. They want to ensure that all students are aware of mental health resources on and off-campus and plan events to ensure students look after their mental well-being. Learn more about Mental Health Peer Supporters.

Peer Coaches

Peer Coaches get assigned to all first-year students.

How do I get in touch with my Peer Coach?

You should have received an email from your Peer Coach within two weeks of registration. Do not forget to check your junk mail folder in case the email went there! If you have not heard from your Peer Coach or have any questions, contact peercoaching@smu.ca to connect.  

My best friend got assigned to a different Peer Coach, so can I switch to have the same one?

We can certainly switch students to a different Peer Coach, but we encourage you to branch out and meet other people too!

Do I have to respond to emails from my Peer Coach?

Participation in the program is optional, but we strongly encourage you to engage with your Peer Coach to build connections and learn more about what to expect in your first year at Saint Mary's. 

 

Peer Support

Peer Supporters are Saint Mary's students who have lived experiences with mental health. They have developed positive coping and resiliency strategies to maintain their well-being. Moreover, they are willing and able to support you in doing the same. They are knowledgeable about community and campus resources, connecting you to them when needed. Peer Supporters know and understand the challenges of being a student, including stress.

Peer Supporters typically provide one-on-one support during drop-in office hours. However, their role will be a bit different in 2020-2021. They will have a virtual presence online via videos and at various campus activities/events. They will be co-facilitating Campus Connections, a program for social engagement hosted by The Counselling Centre. Although the support they offer will be different, please reach out and let them know how they can help.

Peer Support is part of the Stay Connected Mental Health Project overseen by The Counselling Centre in partnership with Saint Mary's University Students' Association (SMUSA). For more information on Peer Support, please visit the Peer Support page or email peer.support@smu.ca.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ's) about Peer Support

Is it confidential?

Peer Supporters uphold confidentiality. They receive training on confidentiality procedures before beginning the role to ensure all students feel safe accessing supports.

Is there a cost to access it?

Peer Support is free for all Saint Mary's students, and any Saint Mary's student can use it.

What academic study and program year are Peer Supporters?

A Peer Supporter must be a second-year or above. For 2020-21, we have one third-year student, one fourth-year student, and one fifth-year student.

What training do Peer Supporters receive?

Peer Supporters undergo three days of training (approximately 20 hours) on helping skills, responding to distress and stigma. They attend weekly meetings with the on-campus supervisor from The Counselling Centre and monthly network meetings with fellow Peer Supporters from other university campuses. They get educated on particular topics, including LGBTQ mental health and sexual violence. However, supporters do not have the training to provide professional counselling.

International Peer Mentor

The International Student Centre offers a one-on-one mentorship program to help and support international students transition into the university community and Canadian life. We connect you with a current Saint Mary's student who will give you advice on living and learning in Canada. Your student mentor will share their experiences coming to study at Saint Mary's and help you find answers to questions you might have.

To participate in the International Student Mentorship Program, students should sign up by completing the Mentorship Application Form. We will match you with an International Peer Mentor who will introduce themselves to you by email. Communication takes place at your pace, on a platform you feel comfortable using, with the mentor reaching out regularly to check-in. 

Your International Peer Mentor is an instant social connection – someone to help you meet other students, get settled into Halifax and talk to about your questions and concerns. Your mentor will be able to offer insight from their past first-year experience or provide resources on where to go for more information, making introductions across the university community. Sign up today!

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