UNC Peer Support Core
Peer Support Core for Mental Health at UNC-Chapel Hill
Mental health is a top concern for universities across the United States and UNC-Chapel Hill (UNC-CH) is no exception. Data from UNC-CH indicates that the undergraduate and graduate student populations are experiencing high rates of mental health-related concerns while faculty and staff also express concerns broadly related to their mental health. Recognizing the importance of mental health, the need for cultural changes to improve mental health across campus, and the potential for a breadth of strategies outside of clinical care, the UNC-CH Mental Health Task Force recommended that the University “increase resources for programs focused on peer-to-peer support, non-crisis support, and discussion.” The UNC Peer Support Core was developed to promote that recommendation.
Mission: Our mission is to promote high quality, diverse, broadly available peer support for students, staff, and faculty that provides a social base for individual, group, and institutional coping with challenges; provides a base especially for coping with COVID-19 and UNC-CH’s reckoning with and response to racism and inequity; contributes to overall goals of Carolina Next.
Objective: Our objective is to facilitate the development of mutual support groups and activities and individual peer support in units (departments, centers, offices, etc.) across UNC-CH so that no individual is without someone to turn in coping with the challenges confronting us. We do this by providing consultation and education on peer support principles and evidence, providing training and implementation assistance, and facilitating the Carolina Peer Support Collaborative.
The Carolina Peer Support Collaborative (CPSC) was started in April 2020 through the initiative of Dr. Edwin Fisher. Having served on the UNC-CH’s Mental Health Task Force and established expertise in peer support and mental health, Dr. Fisher had the idea to use a collaborative learning network structure to bring together parties interested in peer support across the UNC-Chapel Hill campus. Dr. Fisher’s research team, Peers for Progress, has helped to facilitate the meetings and push forward its work. The purpose of the group is to hold a space for sharing ideas related to peer and mutual support and bringing them into action, eventually creating a culture of mutuality all across campus. It provides a space for technical advising and regularly sharing resources, models, lessons learned across schools, departments, and other units.
The CPSC has brought together interested parties from schools and offices across the UNC-Chapel Hill campus who have a vested interest in addressing student, staff, and faculty mental health by building peer support infrastructure. The CPSC currently includes representatives from a variety of health science schools and administrative offices including the College of Arts and Sciences, Office of the Dean of Students, The Graduate School Dean’s Office, The Employee Forum, Student Government, The Center for Faculty Excellence, and The Schools of Dentistry, Medicine, Nursing, Pharmacy, and Public Health, and continues to expand its network.
For more information about the Carolina Peer Support Collaborative, please contact Samantha Luu (email@example.com).
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
- Start a group chat for your pod on the platform of your choice (i.e. GroupMe, WhatsAPP, MS Teams, etc.)
- Introduce yourself to the group and encourage others to do the same
- Clarify the purpose of the chat/pod
- Send out a message with resources and how to reach you outside of the app
5. Register your pod
- 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 Name||Audience||Platform||Pod Representative||Pod Rep Email|
|P4P Team||Peers for Progress Research Team||GroupMe||Patrick Tangfirstname.lastname@example.org|
|HB Faculty in Global Health||Faculty in Department of Health Behavior who work in Global Health||Suzanne Mamanemail@example.com|
|HB 2016 PhD Cohort||HB PhD students who began the program in Fall 2016||Group Text and Zoom||Dirk Davisfirstname.lastname@example.org|
|Barrington Lab Pod||Folks working with Dr. Clare Barrington||GroupMe||Dirk Davisemail@example.com|
|2021 HB Cohort||1st year MPH/MSPH HB Students||GroupMe||Eduardo Hernandezfirstname.lastname@example.org|
|SASAS||HB PhD Cohort Starting 2019||GroupMe||Sophie Toemail@example.com|
|Moms' Pod||PhD and MPH students who are Moms of young children||Deborah Baronfirstname.lastname@example.org|
|HB 2017 PhD Cohort||HB PhD Cohort starting 2017||GroupMe||Chunyan Liemail@example.com|
|HB Admin Staff Pod||HB Administrative Staff||Microsoft Teams||Latasha Mingofirstname.lastname@example.org|
|Junior HB Faculty||Junior HB Faculty||Zoom||Nisha Gottfredsonemail@example.com|
|HB Research Staff||Research-related staff in the Dept of Health Behavior||GroupMe & Email||Samantha Luufirstname.lastname@example.org|
|Golin Lab||Teams of people who work with Carol Golin (projects; Core G; interns and students)||GroupMe||Wendi Seileremail@example.com|
|ESE Staff||Staff of the ESE Department||Microsoft Teams||Rhoda Cerny and Jennifer Moorefirstname.lastname@example.org|
|Gillings Support Pod for Black Students||Students who identify as Black||Zoom||Charletta Sims Evansemail@example.com|
|Gillings International Student Support Pod||Gillings international students||Zoom||Naya Villarrealfirstname.lastname@example.org|
|Gillings Pet Lovers Pod||Students/faculty/staff who love pets (you don't have to have a pet to join)||Microsoft Teams||Jennifer Joyce Mooreemail@example.com|
|Home Environments for Wellness Book Club and Peer Support Pod||UNC Gillings faculty/staff/students||Zoom and Microsoft Teams||Rhoda Cerny and Deshana Cabasan-Hunte and Melissa Walterfirstname.lastname@example.org|
How to be a Supportive Friend During COVID-19
Webinar, March 31, 2020
Building Peer Support Programs for Wellbeing at UNC-Chapel Hill
Webinar, April 7, 2020
Peer Support Volunteer Training 2
Webinar, May 27, 2020
Webinar, July 19, 2020
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.
The Core is led by Dr. Ed Fisher, Samantha Luu, Patrick Y. Tang, and Hannah Barker of the Peers for Progress team. Peers for Progress is a program of the Department of Health Behavior in the Gillings School of Global Public Health. The Core is supported by the Gillings School of Global Public Health and the Department of Health Behavior as well as the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Office of the Provost.
For more information about the UNC Peer Support Core, including how to get involved and for assistance, please contact Samantha Luu (email@example.com)