Peer Mentoring in Schools: What Works?
Peer Mentoring in Schools: What Works?
PUBLISHED: Wednesday, March 27, 2019 by Andilynn Feddeler

In schools where counseling staff is sparse and students have to wait days, sometimes even weeks, for an appointment, peer mentors are stepping forward to help out. Schools are beginning to develop and implement programs that teach students how to effectively approach and support their peers who need guidance. This type of program can allow for more students to get the help they need, when they need it, while relieving some of the pressure on counselors so that they can focus on assessing crisis situations.

Students who struggle with time management, stress, transitions, and the social aspects of school can find guidance in peer mentors who have been trained to help out with those exact issues. Going to a peer rather than an administrator or counselor can also reduce some of the anxiety and stigma surrounding mental health services—in these peer-counseling relationships, students may find their mentor to be more relatable and able to see from their own viewpoint.

Of course, there are guidelines and standards that need to be set in such a program, including boundaries and confidentiality rules. Any student experiencing violence, abuse, suicidal thoughts, or other high-risk subjects should go to a mental health professional. Goals should be set and student mentors must be adequately trained and motivated to help their peers. Emotional support systems can greatly impact students who may not get the help they need at home or in class, and can create a school culture of understanding, communication, and commitment to mental health.

For further reading and insight, check out the following research: