Student Wellness Services

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Helpful Articles: Monthly Feature

Is a peer mentor right for you?

-Julia Armstrong, Personal Counsellor, SWS
October 2, 2018

Keep Calm and Ask a Peer MentorQueen’s is a great place to study with so many built-in supports and activities for students to pursue. Quite frankly, as lucky as you may feel to be here, it would be completely understandable if you felt somewhat overwhelmed. Where to finds things? What activities are best for me? Sometimes, it’s just easier to avoid it all and stay cooped up, right?

I wonder whether you feel similarly to the way I did when I left home for University 14 years ago. I was overwhelmed and a bit paralyzed by all the possible ways I could get involved or find like-minded peers on campus.

One of my more vivid memories from those first weeks is of the giant pile of pamphlets and brochures collecting dust on my dorm room desk. Instead of sorting through all the possible options and reaching out, I avoided the growing pile and took a while to find my way. Looking back, I wish I had done things somewhat differently.

The pamphlets, e-mails, twitter alerts and other ways of encouraging you to try new things can be helpful, of course, but I recall longing for something more personal. I was so busy trying to figure out how to get to my classes on time and eat and keep up with the readings that I had trouble managing the other stuff: finding community, getting involved on campus, feeling like a part of something. It’s a lot to juggle all at once. I needed some support navigating all of the different options. I would have loved to be able to talk with another student who had ‘been there.’

Luckily for you, Queen’s offers two programs that pair students up with mentors. What is a mentor? By definition, a mentor is someone who is typically older who has more experience in the context you are attempting to navigate. In this case, it would be another student, more senior to you, who can provide you with information, advice, and emotional support over a period of time.

More specifically, Peer Mentors are trained upper-year students who are knowledgeable about available resources and clubs on campus. They can:

  • Help you get connected with a club or campus organization that matches your interests
  • Be a cheerleader as you set goals to stay mentally and physically well
  • Provide strategies for improving your time management and study skills*
  • Listen and offer support as your navigate the challenges and triumphs of your time at Queen’s

Connecting with a peer mentor can improve your sense of satisfaction with your experience on campus. It can diminish the sense of confusion, isolation, and stress related to navigating the Queen’s community. This in turn can result in stronger mental health, and even a stronger academic performance. So, if you feel overwhelmed like I did, consider reaching out to the peer mentor program on campus. Or if you know a student who appears to be struggling, suggest it to them. This program is for any student (not just first years!) looking for some one-on-one support navigating University life.

* Please note that peer mentors do not provide course-specific tutoring.

To be matched with a mentor:

First year students:

Upper year students:

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