There is a growing awareness that early preventative support that focuses on building resilience and promoting wellbeing is helpful in meeting pupil’s mental health needs. Specialist support (such as counselling or psychological therapy) is only available to a small proportion of children and young people, and evidence shows that many mental health difficulties could be avoided if children and young people have access to someone to talk to about how they feel, and can engage with activities that help them feel good about themselves.
Peer support systems in schools aim to play a part in offering some early preventative support for a number of reasons:
- A range of literature suggests that peer-based interventions produce outcomes equivalent to, and in some cases superior to, those seen in specialist services.
- Peer support can reduce feelings of isolation and increase social connectedness.
- Peer support can increase feelings of acceptance by way of normalising experiences and providing a supportive foundation.
- Peer support can provide a sense of hope and empowerment, gaining experiential knowledge of how others have overcome their difficulties, sharing problem-solving skills.
- Young people can often see their peers as having a better understanding of their difficulties and concerns than adults.
We have previously offered a full day training course to Lancashire school staff on developing peer support systems in schools. Due to Covid-19 we have not been able to deliver this as a face-to-face session, so instead we are preparing the training as a series of videos, with accompanying Powerpoint slides and an implementation handbook.
Topics within the training include:
- How can peer support can benefit children and young people?
- Research and good practice around peer support
- What makes peer support work?
- Options and methods for peer support
- How to train peer supporters
- Boundaries, confidentiality and safeguarding
If you are interested in developing a peer support system in your school and would like to request access to our training materials, please complete the form here
We will then send you a link to access the materials as soon as they are available.