At the University of Michigan (UM), the Wolverine Support Network’s (WSN) goal is to address and promote mental health on campus and beyond by creating a support system that embodies the quote, “Because Life Happens.” The WSN facilitates over 35 free peer-led support groups across campus in a format that meets students’ availability. Groups of 6 to 10 students each are available for both undergraduate and graduate students. The weekly groups are led by trained peer facilitators and “aim to create a space where members can promote their own and each other’s emotional and mental well-being in an accessible, confidential and inclusive environment,” according to their website.
Research shows “that undergraduate students provide the most potent source of influence on fellow undergraduate students’ affective and cognitive growth and development during college,” the site explains. “Further, research indicates peer-support programs are helpful when focused on assisting students with social/emotional or academic problems, and... provide growth and learning opportunities for both mentors and mentees, resulting in a ‘double impact.’ Peer support programs can also help create a positive school culture and a connectedness to the school community to both mentors and mentees. Thus, the [WSN] model capitalizes on peer-to-peer influence with the goal to inspire increased self-awareness, vulnerability, and resilient, high-quality connections.”
In addition to the support groups, the MSN holds community-building events open to Network members and the UM student body at large “aimed towards fostering a culture of support on campus and destigmatizing mental health.” Offerings include trivia nights, gingerbread house making, game nights, self-care Sundays, yoga, meditation and much more.