Effects of a peer-mentor program on a college population seeking counseling services

A growing national concern for mental health services and an increasing number of students attending university have set the stage for overwhelmed university counseling centers. More and more students across universities are seeking campus counseling services, with counseling directors reporting a greater number of students with severe psychological problems being seen and the number of hours of consultation almost doubling (National Survey of College Counseling Centers, 2014). Limited resources are available on university campuses to allow for conventional means of treatment to meet this issue of a growing student population seeking mental health services. This pilot study looked at the use of a peer-mentoring through a narrative lens to study the effects of peer-mentoring on a clinical population of college-aged students seeking counseling services. Fifteen participants were a part of an 8-week intervention, and completed pre and posttest questionnaires to measure differences in Social Connectedness, Campus Connectedness, Life Satisfaction, and a variety of psychological symptoms. Significant differences were found in the areas of Social Connectedness, Life Satisfaction, and several psychological symptoms. These findings are presented in table 1. Additionally, four participants were interviewed in person for 45 - 60 minutes. The researcher looked at the impact of the program on participants’ experience of personal, social, and campus relationships, and used a narrative lens to thematically code transcripts. Themes included dominant stories, unique outcomes, and counter-stories. These themes are presented in table 2. This study adds new ideas to peer-mentoring literature as a model for intervening on college campuses with clinical populations. The pilot program has the potential to serve as a blue print for strengthening mental health services on college campuses.