What is Peer Support?
Peer Support is an anonymous and confidential supportive listening service for students, by students. Delivered on a walk-in basis located in J209B on NAIT Main Campus, as well as LiveChat.
Our Peer Supporters are rigorously screened, interviewed, and trained over several days, and are also NAIT students just like you! Peer Supporters are not psychologists or professional counsellors, and as such, there are some limitations to the kind of service they can provide. Peer Supporters can help students develop an action plan and give referrals to other areas or services more appropriate for long term support, like counselling or professional help.
Peer support aims:
- To provide an environment where students will feel safe and at ease when discussing concerns with their peers.
- To empower students when making decisions regarding their situations.
- To make referrals to appropriate campus departments, community agencies, or organizations if the student requires further support or information.
Hours of operation
Peer Support is open from early September to the end of April for in-person services and through LiveChat.
Monday – Friday
In-Person (Room J209B)
Monday – Friday
The history of peer support
Peer Support evolved after years of demand from NAIT students as we recognized that supporting student mental health is imperative. Finally, in the fall of 2018, NAITSA was able to start putting the wheels in motion.
NAITSA researched how other campuses implemented their Peer Support Programs and met with experts in the field. After hiring and training our first group of selected Peer Supporters, who underwent 2 full weekends of training on Supportive and Active Listening, and Risk Management training (which includes Abuse and Suicide Listening models), we were able to launch in mid-Fall 2018.
Fall 2020 brought its own challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic. We were fortunate enough to be able to interview, hire, and train our peer supporters virtually. During this time, we also transitioned to LiveChat support which allowed us to have a wider availability of operating hours. Once we were able to come back to campus safely, we resumed in-person services and decided to maintain the online delivery through LiveChat.
The Peer Support service is funded by NAITSA with support from the AB Government Mental Health grant.
Frequently asked questions
What does an in-person peer support session look like?
A student comes into the room and will be welcomed! A peer supporter will talk one-on-one with the student regarding their issue of choice, and then provide referrals or resources for further support. Each session can be around 45 minutes. Our service is limited to one session per issue per person. For example, you can only come once to Peer Support to talk about your feelings about failing a midterm but can come in again if you have a different struggle, (like a breakup) that wasn’t discussed in the prior session.
How does an online LiveChat peer support session happen?
If a student prefers to speak to a peer supporter through LiveChat, they would come to this webpage and start a chat through the LiveChat bubble that will pop-up during operating times. The full session could run longer than an in-person session, as it all happens through a text chat – no video or audio calling. To ensure the student remains anonymous, the system will automatically name every client as “visitor.”
How do I know that Peer Support is a confidential service?
All of our Peer Supporters have signed a confidentiality agreement, and are trained not to disclose identifying information. We do not ask for your name or student ID number. We also provide a welcoming and safe space in order to keep the client comfortable. When you are ready to talk, we are here to listen.
Can I bring in my boyfriend/girlfriend for couples’ counselling?
No, our peer supporters can only do one-on-one sessions, but we can provide you with further resources for relationship support.
Are there more student resources?
Yes! Please visit our student resources page if you’d like to reach out for more support and student resources.
In crisis after hours?
The Distress Line – 780.482.HELP (4357) or call 211.
If risk is immediate, call 911 or go to the nearest emergency room.
Peer Support Coordinator
Hazel Sanchez | firstname.lastname@example.org
NOTE: Please do not email or contact regarding personal difficulties, but instead feel free to use our chat service during business hours, or see the resources below. If risk is immediate please call 911 or go to the nearest emergency room.