What is peer support?
It's no secret that doctors and medical students experience worse mental health outcomes compared to the average population. To address this gap, we are working with the JCUMSA to establish a peer support program for medical students at James Cook University.
Peer support is a way of giving and receiving emotional support between people who are equals, allowing participants to connect and empathise through lived experience. It is different to mentorship or direct supervision as it is not focused on academic or career progression; rather it is about navigating the ups and downs of studying and practicing medicine together with people who also know what it's like. Peer support is supported by evidence as an effective pre-clinical mental health intervention.
While peer support has been widely used in formal settings (eg. Narcotics Anonymous) and informal settings (eg. new mothers' groups), it has yet to see significant adoption by members of the healthcare profession.
The purpose of this pilot is to see if such a program could be useful, sustainable, and effective at improving the mental wellbeing of medical students.
How can I get involved?
We are currently looking for JCU medical students interested in being peer support participants or facilitators in this pilot program.
At this stage the program is in the expression of interest phase, to gauge interest in such a program and collect details from those who might like to be involved. Once ethics approval has been obtained, we will begin reaching out to those who have expressed interest.
Those recruited to provide peer support will receive free peer support facilitation training from the Hand-n-Hand team.
Interested in being involved in peer support now?
If you're interested in becoming involved in peer support now, or want to receive/provide support beyond just JCU students, join the core Hand-n-Hand Peer Support Program.