UW News

December 9, 2021

Video: Peer Health Educators help students meet life’s challenges

UW News

Who do you talk to when you have a problem? 

“For a student, it’s most likely a friend,” said Jennifer Laxague, assistant director of LiveWell & Campus Health Promotion at the University of Washington. Because young people tend to talk first to someone in their peer group, LiveWell created a Peer Health Education program where trained students teach other students about taking care of themselves and each other. 

First-year students discuss mental health at a Peer Health Education workshop.

First-year students discuss mental health at a Peer Health Education workshop.

Peer Health Educators are current undergraduate and graduate students who give interactive workshops on health and wellness topics such as mental health, sleep, healthy relationships and alcohol use. Sharing evidence-based knowledge, skills and campus resources, these workshops are aimed at promoting life-long behaviors that support health, self-growth and meaningful connection. Workshops can be requested for UW students by anyone — faculty, staff, students, registered student organizations or departments.

If you are struggling with a psychological issue that is severely impacting your functioning and well-being, consider scheduling an appointment with the University Counseling Center to see a licensed professional. For life threatening emergencies call 911, 24 hours/day.
SafeCampus is available to support students, staff, faculty and community members: 206-685-7233.

New this year is the launch of a one-on-one peer coaching program that is free to UW students at the Seattle campus. Peer Wellness Coaching sessions teach students to identify their strengths and personal-change goals, learn useful and effective skills for personal development and self-management, and work toward the transformations they want to see in themselves, their relationships and their lives. Peer wellness coaches are students who receive additional in-depth training and supervision and are available for appointments online or in person.

Peer Wellness Coaching isn’t a replacement for professional psychological counseling that should be provided by a licensed professional, Laxague said. Rather, it’s a learning space for students looking for ways to solve problems and to grow their self-efficacy.

“This type of self-learning will serve students not only in college but throughout their future lives,” Laxague said.