Peer support line launched on campus

Students feeling stressed out are now able to turn to another avenue on campus. The MSU’s peer support phone line opened as a pilot project Wednesday night at 7 p.m.

Students can call the confidential line at McMaster extension 28888 between 7 p.m. and 1 a.m. on Wednesdays and Thursdays.

The service is a confidential “warm-line” as opposed to a hotline, which means volunteers are trained to pass off emergency calls to professionals. While they aren’t therapists or counselors, 20 volunteers have been trained by Security Services and the Student Wellness Centre to listen to their peers talk about issues they’re coping with, from academics to sex.

MSU president Siobhan Stewart, who proposed the phone line in her campaign platform last year, said the program “fills a niche” in campus mental health support.

“Mental health is a spectrum. Some students don’t want to go to the Student Wellness Centre because what they’re dealing with isn’t severe, but that doesn’t mean they’re mentally healthy.”

Stewart said the structure of the MSU’s support line is modeled closely after Laurier’s peer help line, which has been run by its students’ union for ten years. Other universities in the area, including the University of Ottawa and Western University, have similar programs in place.

Stewart hopes the peer support line will become a permanent service after its pilot run finishes at the end of the term.

“Sometimes you don’t want to talk to a friend [about your problems]. You want to talk to someone who doesn’t know who you are,” she said.

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Author: Anqi Shen

Anqi is the Sil’s first online editor and often reports on post-secondary education, campus news and Hamilton arts.