Georgian students to get support through Bell Lets Talk funds
Georgian College will enhance existing mental health services across all campuses thanks to $100,000 from the Bell Let’s Talk Post-Secondary Fund. With this new investment, the college will add a student mental health peer support program to its mental health and well-being resources.
Peer support is a nationally and internationally recognized prevention and support strategy in mental health care, and it will become part of Georgian's stepped-care model of supports.
“Bell Let’s Talk is pleased to provide a $100,000 Post-Secondary Fund grant for a peer support program for students at Georgian College,” said Mary Deacon, Chair of Bell Let’s Talk. “Bell Let’s Talk is committed to continuing to support student mental health and well-being to create positive change for mental health.”
Jennifer Lloyd, Manager, Mental Health and Well-being (MHWB) at Georgian said given the increase and onset of mental health challenges associated with the COVID-19 pandemic among postsecondary students and the demand for mental health support, the college determined that empowering students and using their abilities to support one another safely and effectively, is an important opportunity to pursue.
“The success of Georgian’s Peer Mentor and Niwijiagan Peer Mentor programs demonstrates the value of student-to-student support,” said Lloyd. “Until now, Georgian hasn’t had a peer support program specifically for mental health. This new program is intended to provide non-clinical mental health support to both full- and part-time students across all our campus locations.”
Lloyd added that successfully supporting student mental health begins with ensuring equitable access to a range of student-centered services within a stepped care model. The MHWB Peer Support program also supports Georgian’s efforts to reduce stigma related to mental health and seeking help.
Data analysis from extensive consultations with students and employees indicated that the development and implementation of a mental health peer support program should be a key priority in the college’s MHWB Strategic Plan.
The MHWB Peer Support team includes a MHWB Peer Support Project Manager and Co-ordinator who will be responsible for the daily operations of the program, and 10 MHWB Peer Supporters who are upper-year Georgian students. They will provide direct mental health support to peers seeking assistance and will be required to have lived experience with their own journey of mental health challenges and managing, overcoming, and/or living with that challenge.
The MHWB Peer Supporters will receive extensive training in accordance with the Mental Health Commission of Canada’s Peer Support Guidelines, including:
- Key Principles of Peer Support
- Suicide prevention and supporting through crisis
- Supportive communication practices
- Techniques for providing text-based support
- Trauma informed practices
- Personal and professional boundaries
- Resiliency, self-care, and personal growth
The program launches in February.
Bell Let’s Talk Day is January 25
On January 25 and every day throughout the year, we encourage Canadians to take meaningful action to create positive change for mental health. Everyone can play a role in our homes, schools, workplaces and communities. Here are some actions we can all take:
- Choose a mental health organization to learn about or support
- Help a friend struggling with their mental health by learning how to support them
- Ask about how your school, workplace or community is creating change for mental health
- Nurture your own well-being by practicing and learning mental health strategies
- Get involved in a mental health initiative or organize an event to support mental health
- Engage in conversations about mental health to fight stigma
Visit Bell.ca/LetsTalk for more ideas and share your actions using #BellLetsTalk and help inspire others to join the movement to create positive change for mental health.