1. What is Weekly Group like?
Weekly Group will meet during the same time (typically an hour) and location with the same Members/Leaders each week. These groups are intended to be a confidential and safe space for students to engage with each other and discuss meaningful aspects of one's life.
At the beginning of each semester, groups often begin with light activities and icebreakers to build mutual understanding and trust. Subsequent meetings vary in emphasized topic, but remain open to the sharing of challenges, stories, celebrations, or other life events that a member would like to discuss with the group. Student facilitators (“Leaders”), are trained to guide the conversation and have knowledge of various on and off-campus resources.
2. How many students are in each group? How many facilitators?
Group sizes typically range from 6-15 students, depending on weekly attendance. A minimum of 2 and maximum of 4 student facilitators ("Leaders") will be in each group.
3. What does training look like? What is/isn’t required?
All of our peer facilitators (“Leaders”) partake in a retreat to jump-start their training. Leaders then receive ongoing training from mental health professionals on campus throughout the academic year. Weekly trainings vary in order to meet campus needs. Each organization's Director of Leader Development collaborates with a mental health professional (e.g. “CAPS Liaison”) to schedule and orchestrate weekly trainings. These weekly trainings also assist Leaders with in-group scenarios on a no-names basis.
4. How does The Support Network approach liability concerns?
Each campus approaches liability differently. It is important to remember that The Support Network helps campuses establish peer support groups, not peer therapy and not peer counseling. We work to ensure leaders are well-trained and receive ongoing training from mental health professionals. We encourage these professionals to work with us and the students on crafting mitigation plans that meet their campus needs.
5. Does The Support Network offer therapy?
No. The Support Network does not offer therapy, but many students have found the Weekly Group experience to be therapeutic. It is not intended to replace other pro-health engagements or activities. It is a simply a safe, inclusive, and confidential environment for students to engage honestly with one another.
6. Is The Support Network only for students with mental illness?
No. Weekly Group is designed for all students, as we hope to address and promote mental health and well-being for all students. Many students elect to attend group for different reasons.
7. How much does the program cost? What are the cost considerations?
The Support Network does not currently charge campuses to launch a program, but instead works directly with students and administrators on program development. We recommend 0.1-0.3 FTE of a mental health professional’s time to advise and support the group of students. Beyond this, other cost considerations are marketing materials (e.g. social media, student organization festival registration, flyers, etc.), general office supplies, and the cost of an overnight retreat. Some schools may need to budget for the cost of a meeting space for each Weekly Group.
8. What does The Support Network provide to campuses as we launch/get set up?
The Support Network Advisory Team is comprised of recent university alumni with proven expertise in student mental health programming and organizational development. Our goal is to help campuses launch, grow efficiently and exist for future students. Once a campus has launched, The Support Network Advisory Team provides ongoing guidance and the backbone between the various campus organizations. Further, the Advisory Team helps resolve the turnover challenges of student organizations.
Representative services provided include:
The Support Network Blueprint (our manual/guidebook)
General organizational consultation
Proprietary software for group placement
Access to other student-led Support Networks (via Slack)
Shared templates and resources
Press and publicity opportunities
Logo and branding guidance
9. What type of involvement is necessary to start a Support Network on a campus?
Campuses will need to have five student Directors and one mental health professional to help launch this program. Given the organizational responsibilities, the Directors should be demonstrated student leaders on campus that are passionate about the model's mission.
10. What are some things that help make a Support Network successful?
In order to start a Support Network it first takes a dedicated group of students. It is a time-intensive commitment for students over the course of a year. We typically estimate that it will require 15+ hours per week from a diligent team of students to launch a support network within a semester. It also requires a supportive administration.