Peer Power!

RC: How do you promote the program at schools?

AR: Because the Haven communities are strongly integrated into each university, we promote the program across all university departments and channels, especially focusing on Residential Life/RAs, sororities and fraternities, athletic teams, counseling, health services and student conduct.

RC: How are peer mentors selected?

AR: They are chosen by the Haven program director or Haven house manager at the school. These are students or alumni of the program or someone from the extended community who stand out as leaders. Many times, these are people who have participated in planning activities, served on panels or are already providing peer education on some level. The peer mentors have more than a year of sobriety and have successfully managed living and being on a college campus in recovery. We provide a three-session training, in which they learn how to work with people just starting to explore recovery, administer drug testing, perform motivational interviewing and understand harm reduction.

RC: How are students and peer mentors matched?

AR: We talk to the prospective mentees to find out what brought them to investigate the program and learn about their qualities and interests. We then match them with a relatable peer mentor. We want them to have a connection. For example, we paired a student who is a music major with a peer mentor who plays many instruments. Something as small as that can forge a bond and command respect from the student.

RC: What is the positive impact on the peer mentors?

AR: Peer mentors are sought-after roles; people are honored to be asked. As the peers support other students, their own recovery grows stronger. As they give out advice and relay their experience, they are reminding themselves of what they need to do to stay on track. It’s one more support to keep them healthy and doing the right thing for themselves.

Written by  By Patti Zielinski

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