Title: Peer Counseling in College Mental Health
Source: Mary Christie Institute and the Born This Way Foundation
In this first-ever survey of college student peer counseling, the Mary Christie Institute and the Born This Way foundation examined perceptions of peer mental health support among college students. The authors defined peer counseling as “the process of confiding in trained peers for mental health support.” The responses of the over 2,000 students who were surveyed demonstrate how peer counseling can be used by colleges and universities to improve student well-being.
Key findings from the survey:
- Two-thirds (67 percent) of students reported facing mental health challenges in the past 12-months.
- One in five students shared they participate in peer counseling, with 60 percent of those who have tried it saying the service is helpful. Of the students who have not tried peer counseling, 62 percent shared they have interest in doing so.
- Use of peer counseling was highest among Black, Transgender, and first-generation college students – these students, among others, were more likely to share that finding a peer counselor who shared their identities and experiences was “very important” to them.
- Students reported that when facing a serious mental health concern, they are more likely to seek support from a peer (such as a friend or romantic partner) first. Data from the survey also shows students are concerned about their problems becoming a burden to their peers.
- Among students who serve as peer counselors, they report a desire to help others and a higher sense of well-being.
- While peer counselors reported receiving training, 16 percent of peer counselors shared they were not aware of emergency protocols if they become concerned for a student’s safety.
The report concludes with implications for peer counseling on college campuses today, acknowledging the role it can have through more representative support across identities and shared experiences.
On Wednesday, Jan. 26 at 1 p.m. ET, the Mary Christie Institute and the Born This Way Foundation will be holding a webinar on peer support in college mental health to discuss the findings of this report.
Click here to read the full report.