Health and Wellness services have announced the implementation of a new Peer Support Alliance during the month of March. The initiative, in place on a trial basis until late March, is intended to give students a relaxed, friendly environment in which to air concerns and feelings on a variety of issues to a support group of students. The initiative came in response to a survey conducted last fall, in which most students indicated they would be very comfortable talking about problems and questions with non-friends and family members.
To prepare for the Peer Health Alliance, Peer Health Educators (PHEs) underwent 30 hours of training, learning how to effectively communicate with students. Meghan Root, Counseling Services Wellness Advocate, described the program as a starting point for getting help addressing personal concerns, and says that thus far, feedback has been positive. “We are just seeing if SMCM students will benefit from this type of support,” says Root. “The PHEs can help with sexuality, relationships, sexual health, STIs, birth control choices, alcohol use, drug use, tobacco, communication, roommate conflicts, anxiety, stress, depressed mood, and other topics. If they don’t know the answer, they can help find it.”
The survey that served as the jumping off point for the Peer Support Alliance was created by Ali Leonardi, a wellness fellow. On the subject of the Peer Support Alliance, Leonardi summed it up like this: “The Peer Support Alliance offers St. Mary’s students a comfortable and relaxed environment where they can discuss concerns and questions they have about a variety of issues with someone who they can relate to and understands what it’s like to be a student here on campus.”
The Peer Support Alliance will meet on Mondays and Thursdays in Goodpaster Hall from 4p.m. to 8p.m. until March 27, and is open to all students. For more information on the program, please contact Counseling Services at their designated work emails.