03 Mar Advancing the Campus Community Perspective: Peer Support
Peer support can be defined as help provided by and for people with similar problems or experiences, based on key principles of respect, shared responsibility, and a mutual agreement of what is helpful (Mead et al., 2001). Peer support programs could play a central role in improving peer relations on the university campus. As the college mental health crisis intensifies, peer support has been suggested as a low barrier-to-access and cost-effective method for HEIs to supplement their traditional student resources (Hunt & Eisenberg, 2010). Peer support may be an effective way to promote college mental health (Johnson & Riley, 2019), as all parties seem to benefit from it. For example, students who receive peer support can be empowered, while both stigma and the social isolation associated with mental health difficulties can be ameliorated. Students engage actively with their peers, express empathy, concern, and acceptance, thus instilling a sense of hope and helping establish a caring campus community (Byrom, 2018). Further, peer supporters also benefit from the process, as it increases their self-esteem, problem-solving and leadership skills, personal development, and other life skills (Crisp et al., 2020). In terms of peer support, the Public University of Navarre’s ‘Buddy Programme’ has an aim of facilitating the integration of foreign students into the university environment. In this programme, UPNA students provide support to foreign students.