Accelerating Best Practices in Peer Support Around the World



Objective: Development, evaluation and dissemination of mutual support so that no student, staff member, or faculty feel without someone to whom to turn in the stress of COVID-19.

Program Elements

Mutual Support Activities and Groups or “Support Pods” – Units may already have groups of their members who meet and can provide support to each other.  These should be encouraged.  In their absence, Support Pods can be developed.  These can be defined administratively (e.g., department administrative staff) or encouraged among naturally occurring groups (e.g., Moms’ Pod).  Pod members meet through their choice of channels (e.g., GroupMe).

“Pod Reps” can be identified from each already existing group or Pod and meet regularly to identify concerns, brainstorm strategies, and share ideas.

Pods may choose to focus on concrete issues or concerns they share (e.g., studying for comps, meeting university deadlines for budgeting and financial reporting) or may focus on non-business, social discussions (e.g., Netflix best pics).  Some may also choose a shared activity such as making masks or organizing resources.

Peer Support Volunteers (PSVs) – After brief training (currently 75 minute), PSVs will do several things:

  1. Be available to those who might need someone to talk with – similar to the availability of those trained in Mental Health First Aid or Safe Zone
  2. Reach out to those who may be isolated or dealing with major stressors, self-identified or identified through Pods, etc.
  3. Work with Pod Reps to organize activities or resources in the department and school
  4. Help individuals navigate available resources within their department or organization
  5. Represent and advocate for the needs of those with whom they are in contact
  6. Other activities they may identify as useful or helpful
  7. Ongoing meetings among Peer Supporters to exchange ideas and support in their roles.

Collaborative Learning Network – We would like to convene those managing or coordinating programs in departments or CAUs to exchange approaches, problems encountered, ways to address them, and arrange shared training or other enrichment opportunities, e.g., webinar on trauma focused support.


Pod Resources

Connect with the Collaborative Learning Network and share resources on our Microsoft Teams work group. You will need a UNC login to access this page.


How to be a Supportive Friend During COVID-19

Webinar, March 31, 2020

(Download Slides)

Building Peer Support Programs for Wellbeing at UNC-Chapel Hill

Webinar, April 7, 2020

(Download Slides)

Peer Support Volunteer Training

Webinar, April 29, 2020

(Download Slides)


Peer Support Volunteer Training 2

Webinar, May 27, 2020

(Download Slides)


If you’ve watched the training video above and would like to be peer support volunteer, please contact us at to get connected with our network.


How to Start a Pod

How to Start a Pod

What is a Pod?
A self-defined group to communicate with virtually during the COVID-19 pandemic. This can be your cohort within your concentration, a group of faculty or staff in the same department, etc. The goal is to ensure that everyone is in a pod.


1. Identify your group


2. Choose your platform

  • Suggested platforms include GroupMe, WhatsApp, Slack, or Microsoft Teams


3. Gather contact information for your Pod


4. Begin Pod

  1. GroupMe (recommended)
    1. See support page
    2. Download the GroupMe app from the App Store or Google Play Store
    3. Create a profile with your name and an optional picture
    4. Create a new chat by selecting the paper and pencil icon in the top right corner of the “chat” page
    5. Opt to “Start Group”
    6. Create a name for your Pod and add an optional picture
    7. Either type in individual phone numbers to add members, or search through contacts who are “GroupMe” users
  2. Introduce yourself to the group and encourage others to do the same
  3. Clarify the purpose of the chat/pod
  4. Send out a message with resources and how to reach you outside of the app


5. Register your pod at the bottom of the page

  • Please register your pod so if the need arises to share resources or reach out to pod representatives, we are aware of who to contact; you may opt to share your name/e-mail publicly or not.


Pod Directory


Pod Name Audience Platform Pod Representative Pod Rep Email
P4P Team Peers for Progress Research Team GroupMe Patrick Tang
HB Faculty in Global Health Faculty in Department of Health Behavior who work in Global Health WhatsApp Suzanne Maman
HB 2016 PhD Cohort HB PhD students who began the program in Fall 2016 Group Text and Zoom Dirk Davis
Barrington Lab Pod Folks working with Dr. Clare Barrington GroupMe Dirk Davis
2021 HB Cohort 1st year MPH/MSPH HB Students GroupMe Eduardo Hernandez
SASAS HB PhD Cohort Starting 2019 GroupMe Sophie To
Moms' Pod PhD and MPH students who are Moms of young children WhatsApp Deborah Baron
HB 2017 PhD Cohort HB PhD Cohort starting 2017 GroupMe Chunyan Li
HB Admin Staff Pod HB Administrative Staff Microsoft Teams Latasha Mingo
Junior HB Faculty Junior HB Faculty Zoom Nisha Gottfredson
HB Research Staff Research-related staff in the Dept of Health Behavior GroupMe & Email Samantha Luu
Golin Lab Teams of people who work with Carol Golin (projects; Core G; interns and students) GroupMe Wendi Seiler
ESE Staff Staff of the ESE Department Microsoft Teams Rhoda Cerny and Jennifer Moore
Gillings Support Pod for Black Students Students who identify as Black Zoom Charletta Sims Evans


Register Your Pod



We’d like to hear your feedback! If you’ve participated in our webinars or used the resources on this page, please take a moment to complete this short survey and let us know how we’re doing. Thanks so much.

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