Listening Peers: For Students by Students
The Listening Peers Program is currently paused.
Access free, confidential, survivor-centric peer support with The PEARS Project founder and director Micah Kalisch. Sessions are available every Thursday. Book an appointment here.
The Listening Peers Program is a new UTSU initiative that will connect students looking for someone to talk to, with one of our peer support mentors. Peer support mentors are trained volunteers to act as a resource for listening and engaging in conversations around balancing student/work life or personal life challenges, with the goal of meeting students where they are at.
The program was created to offer a safe, low-pressure, and inclusive environment for students to connect and have real conversations around mental wellness and explore self-care strategies.
This program is supported by a Mental Health Clinician who will guide the volunteers and provide support and resources to student clients as needed.
The program is not intended to replace or supplement the need for counseling or crisis services. Please see the resource page below for additional support and resources.
Mondays & Fridays, 10 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. & 2 – 5 p.m.
Appointment bookings begin February 7th, with peer mentoring sessions starting the week of February 14th. The program runs until April 29, 2022.
We offer one-on-one appointments for students with peer mentors. Appointments will be available up until the hour before a session begins where availability exists on a first come, first serve basis.
You will be asked to complete an intake form and confidentiality agreement prior to your appointment. These forms are made available in the booking confirmation.
Peer support sessions are being held virtually over zoom and booked online through the link below.
Book your appointment
The Listening Peers Team
- Support is provided by student volunteers who have completed training with Stella’s Place, a Toronto-based organization committed to providing mental health support to young adults aged 16-29.
- The training sessions employed a holistic peer support approach that focuses on anti-oppression, empathy, open-mindedness, and mutual learning.
- Peer support mentors also draw from their lived experiences to support students
For Kiara, joining Listening Peers was about forming a community not only with her peers, but also students who use the program.
As a second-year international student, she’s only been in Toronto for a short time, and knows how hard adjusting can be. When she used U of T’s counseling services, she thought they were good, but found it hard to connect with them. For her, talking to a friend or equal, like a peer, makes it easier to relate.
“It would have been nice to have someone like this for myself but now that I’m in a different position, it’d be nice to be there for someone like that.”
Kiara’s mental health tip: take yourself out of the situation causing you stress, and come back later with a fresh mind. Journaling is also a great way to see how far you’ve come!
Nina’s seen the gaps in the mental health system for young adults and how often, taking the traditional route to see a clinician can be intimidating and uninviting for students. Oftentimes students struggle to find the words and feel clinical settings don’t really understand what they are going through.
That’s why as a fourth-year student, Nina joined Listening Peers as a mentor to give something back to her fellow students. She hopes that with a low-barrier program like this, students can be more open with their feelings, and see it more as a time to decompress and vent to a friend, rather than the clinical feeling of seeking help.
Her mental health tip: get outside however you can! “You don’t notice how good it is for you until you stop doing it.”
Youness’s U of T experience is pretty different from other students. A first-year student in his early thirties, he recalls his early twenties during his first degree and feeling stuck, confused and struggling with his mental health. Now, he’s in a place where he can be a mentor to students who may have been in a similar place as him.
“It just takes a conversation. I believe in the power of a conversation.”
For him, Listening Peers is a place that isn’t a breakout room or office hours where students can just be a person, and not have to focus only on the academic aspect of themselves.
His mental health advice: diversify your self-care portfolio! Having different outlets for mental health (emotional, physical and artistic) makes it easy to shift to another outlet when one may not be available.
Peer Support Specialist
Coordinates the program and is responsible for supporting and overseeing the team of peer support mentors.
Naima is the program’s Peer Support Specialist. As a fourth-year student, she knows how exhausting the last two years have been, and how challenging it can be to access mental health services on campus.
As part of the team who designed Listening Peers, Naima provided the crucial student perspective on what the gaps and needs around mental health services for students are.
“The great thing about having students supporting students is that we all fundamentally understand what each other are going through.”
Mental Health Clinician
- The program’s Clinician is a registered social worker who specializes in youth centered therapeutic approaches.
- Responsible for guiding the volunteers and providing support and resources to student clients as needed.
Noreen attended U of T for both her undergraduate and masters degrees. As an undergrad, there weren’t many spaces centered around mental health on campus, and most wellness and self-care options were focused on academic success. For her, being part of this program is a chance to give back to the community she came from, and help foster a broader sense of community and support at U of T.
Frequently Asked Questions
We offer one-on-one 45 minute appointment sessions. Appointment spots remain open until they are filled on a first come, first serve basis.
When rebooking appointments, indicate that you would like to see the same mentor you saw in a previous session or you can request a different person.