Glasgow develops peer wellbeing support programme

Universities UK’s Stepchange Framework looks at student mental health and wellbeing through four ‘domains’ of Learn, Support, Work and Live. Universities currently resource a wide range of services to support those experiencing mental illness, as the following example shows.

In recognition that peer support is a powerful tool for supporting the mental health of students, the University of Glasgow has developed a Peer Wellbeing Support programme – a confidential, student-led listening service for students supported by qualified counsellors.

The service gives students the opportunity to talk and share their problems and receive support from trained Peer Wellbeing Supporters. The trained Peer Wellbeing Supporters are fellow students who want to support the wellbeing of their peers. They’re there to listen to any issue a student is facing and, where appropriate, signpost them to a relevant service. Peer Wellbeing Supporters are trained to assist students who are experiencing mild mental health issues and with issues such as anxiety, stress, isolation and loneliness.

The service began as a pilot in 2014 and was formally launched in 2019. To date, the service has trained over 100 Peer Supporters from across the University and is accessible to students across all Schools and Colleges. The students participate in 27 hours of specialised, evidence-based training and ongoing supervision facilitated by qualified counsellors. The students who volunteer in the service are encouraged to have a sense of ownership of the service and are supported to work together and shape the service to best suit the needs of their peers.