Accelerating Best Practices in Peer Support Around the World

UNC-CH 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-CH 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.

Mini-Grants to Advance Peer Support at UNC-Chapel Hill

The UNC-CH Peer Support Core has launched a Call for Proposals on November 7, 2022. This Call for Proposals invites applications for mini-grants that advance peer support at UNC-Chapel Hill. Applications will be accepted between November 7, 2022 and April 30, 2023 and will be reviewed on a rolling basis.

The vision of peer support driving this activity is a broad one, including formal programs and casual interactions that contribute to feelings of connectedness at UNC-Chapel Hill. Projects might focus on activities, resources, or even physical improvements that facilitate people connecting. Projects may focus on any or all of staff, students, and faculty.


Our work: 


Carolina Peer Support Collaborative

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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.


Peer Support Programs and Pods at UNC-CH

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

  1. Your chosen platform can be anything as long as people are engaged
  2. You may find it useful to leverage an existing platform (i.e. the lab GroupMe or add a channel to the student organization Slack) or start on a new platform with appropriate capabilities for your Pod
  3. Suggested platforms include GroupMe, WhatsApp, Slack, or Microsoft Teams

3. Gather contact information for your Pod

4. Begin Pod

  1. You may choose to convene your pod only asynchronously  or a combination of synchronous and asynchronous – either is fine as long as people feel connected
  2. If needed, introduce yourself to the group and encourage others to do the same; clarify the purpose of the Pod
  3. Send out messages with resources as relevant to your Pod; try to keep useful resources in an easily accessible shared location
  4. Keep in communication with your Pod and facilitate dialogue
  5. If you would like to learn more about peer support skills or attend a peer support-related training, contact us at


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 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
Gillings International Student Support Pod Gillings international students Zoom Naya Villarreal
Gillings Pet Lovers Pod Students/faculty/staff who love pets (you don't have to have a pet to join) Microsoft Teams Jennifer Joyce Moore
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 Walter
Gillings Asian/AAPI Pod UNC Gillings faculty/staff/students who self-identify as Asian/Asian-American Pacific Islander Zoom and Listserv Geni Eng and Liz Chen
CCR Resilience Coaches Resilience Coaches for the Carolina Collaborative for Resilience Microsoft Teams Jessica Lambert Ward





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 2

Webinar, May 27, 2020

(Download Slides)

Peer2Peer Training

Webinar, July 19, 2020

(Download Slides)

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.


Carolina Peer Support Collaborative Presentation

Behavioral Health Convening Presentation, March 2, 2021

(Download Slides)

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 and Patrick Tang 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-CH Peer Support Core, including how to get involved and for assistance, please contact Patrick Tang at

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