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Wellness Wednesday: Peer support and allyship

Wellness Wednesday - October 21
(Image courtesy of Health Promotion and Wellness)
​​​When we have peer support, it can make us feel less alone and more understood. As we navigate each day, it is critical to identify the peer supports in our life. Our family and friends are certainly extensions of support, but feeling understood  and validated by someone else with similar experiences and understandings is invaluable.

Often times for individuals who are struggling with mental health concerns, such as substance abuse, eating concerns and other mental health illnesses and struggles, it can be incredibly supportive  to connect with others who had similar experiences. That  is one of the main reasons why individuals seeking support for addiction are paired with a peer support specialist.

​It is also a main reason why the office of Health Promotion and Wellness empowers and advocates for our HEAT Peer Educators. These trained students are able to connect and educate their peers in a way that adults and full-time professionals cannot. HEAT Peer Educators can realted to their peers because they have gone through similar experiences and difficulties. Peer support specialists can often talk in depth about some of the trials and tribulations, as well as the long road to recovery and maintenance. There are many different types of peer support, some more formal and trained than others. But all types of peer support, formal or not can be helpful in our day-to-day lives.

Peer support can also be incredibly helpful for persons of color. Often times, it can be difficult to explain the intricacies of micro aggressions, exclusion, oppression and discrimination. The understanding is different to navigate for someone who has never experienced that kind of oppression based on their identity.

It can feel quite lonely if we don't have these opportunities to truly connect, share and be validated and supported by a peer. Especially during these times of continuous trauma, loss, racial and social injustices. With the impending election, everything has been magnified. It seems that some relevant topics have even been sidelined for a bit, which makes it even more important  to lean on each other for help. We encourage you to seek peer support and professional support. We can never have too many support systems in our lives.

If you or someone you know is looking for help from the Office of Health Promotion and Wellness, email us at . We provide one-on-one support for general health and wellness, substance use, survivor support advocacy and coaching. Not sure which option is the right fit for you? Email us anyway. We look forward to connecting with you and providing  the support and care you need.