Youth & Adolescent Peer Support

I’ve been hearing about how “radical” and possibly “dangerous” youth peer support might be. Those fears are just nonsense. Youth support one another all the time - mostly without any training in empathy or open ended questions. Youth can babysit another human being via Red Cross training at age 12 - in Colorado they can also hunt big game at 12.They can drive a vehicle on state and federal highways at age 16. They can join the military before they turn 18 with parental consent. For pity’s sake - they can get married and start a family at age 16 in most of the USA. We need to get real about who they are, what they’re capable of, and support them when they want to help one another. Adolescent Peer Support League “Our organization seeks to improve the status of teen mental health in the nation through establishing a peer support specialist system in high schools. We believe that the current system of mental health support for teen communities is inefficient and sometimes difficult to access.

We also believe that it is crucial to combat mental health issues in high school students as people are statistically more likely to develop mental illness during young adulthood, and high school students are highly likely to have numerous other problems as a result of having poor mental health.”

Teen Talk “Peer supporters are young people who provide support to other young people by listening, supporting, referring and giving information about health and safety.

They are volunteers who reach out to peers in their community to provide accurate information, resources and links to services in their communities. They are the bridge for connecting their peers with what they need.” The Tribe - 5 Teen Peer Support Specialists - Listen to a group of 5 trained peer support specialists ages 15-19 as they discuss why and how they became the first trained teens in the Grand Valley.

The Tribe Wellness Community – “Peer-to-peer support group for teens faced with mental health challenges and/or difficult family dynamics.

During the teenage years striking changes take place in the body as well as the brain. Youth are particularly vulnerable to mental health challenges including – depression, anxiety, ADHD, self-harm, eating disorders and more.

You are not alone. The Tribe offers a convenient and safe place for teens to connect, share stories and encouragement. Positive social support is a critical component to developing into a healthy adult.”

Youth Peer Support – Michigan model The goals of Youth Peer Support include: *supporting youth empowerment, *assisting youth in developing skills to improve their overall functioning and quality of life, and, *working collaboratively with others involved in delivering the youth’s care.

NOTE* If you're still unconvinced about the value of youth helping one another - consider how adults have done on preventing child suicide. It's the 2nd cause of death for American school children 4th - 12th grade. In Colorado where I live it's the 1st. Clearly they can figure out how to take their own lives. We adults have failed these children. It's time to follow their lead in learning how to help them stay alive.

Erica KitzmanComment