‘I’m Not Alone’: The experiences of peer supporters delivering university based support

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University of New Brunswick


Peer support programs at universities are growing, where people who’ve faced their own mental health challenges help others. These programs could aid in student mental health promotion, but proper support and planning is needed. The dominant challenge of integration into existing systems historically has been role ambiguity, given the multitude of peer support models in place across organizations and a lack of awareness of peer support. This study utilized narrative inquiry, thematic and structural analysis to explore the experiences of university-based peer supporters. Findings indicate the peer support role is centered around sharing similar experiences, addressing the complex needs of international students, student sexual violence, and students hesitant to access mental health support. Maintaining boundaries, and the ambiguity of peer support were identified challenges. Ensuring quality supervision and marketing of peer support to students were suggested as supportive factors.