What is it about?

We used surveys to determine if students working on an online mental health support chatline had any changes in their sense of social or mental wellbeing, and assessed their coping strategies. We compared the students' responses to other students not working on the chatline, and found that before working on the chatline the students who volunteered had lower mental wellbeing (flourishing). We found that after working on the chatline, their mental wellbeing did not decrease, instead their social wellbeing and coping skills improved.

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Why is it important?

Student mental health is an increasingly important topic to universities. This research shows that promoting student groups that allow students to help each other does not put student volunteers at risk. In fact, students who volunteer for such groups might have a higher rate of mental health challenges and participation in the group could be helpful for them. As universities grapple with the issue of providing adequate mental health support to their campuses, this research shows that student peer support groups are a safe means of helping students.

Perspectives

As student mental health support groups have cropped up on university campuses, they sometimes are embraced by university administrators and health professionals, but sometimes are feared for the liability they may represent. This paper shows that university faculty and staff have fewer reasons to worry and more reasons to support such a group on their own campus, and this author encourages universities to fund and support these groups.

Benjamin Johnson
Johns Hopkins University

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: Psychosocial impacts on college students providing mental health peer support, Journal of American College Health, September 2019, Taylor & Francis, DOI: 10.1080/07448481.2019.1660351.
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