This post was authored by members of The Peer Counselors
The Peer Counselors (PCs) are a fairly young organization, and were started in response to campus-wide concerns surrounding mental health crises and the disconnect between students and the counseling center. After speaking out about the issue at large in a Collegian op-ed, Ocean Jurney ’15, and former director of counseling services, Patrick Gilligan, worked together to create a group able to bridge the gap between the students and the counseling center staff. The Peer Counselors have always been exactly what their name implies: students making themselves available to help other students with any number of concerns or problems.
Although a student-run organization, the PCs have always worked alongside the counseling center- never in an effort to replace proper counseling center attention, but rather to act as a first step on the way to getting help for mental health issues.
However, the past year has seen many administrative changes involving liability and student autonomy, some of which will affect the Peer Counselors. Up until this point in time and extending to the end of this semester, the Peer Counselors will offer and have offered the Kenyon student body the following services:
- Access to a 24-hour hotline for immediate connection to a PC
- One-on-one confidential support
- Small, PC-led discussion groups, covering a range of topics from anxiety to body image
- Fall and Winter Blues, events to raise spirits and destigmatize reaching out for help concerning mental health struggles
The proposed changes to come in the 2018-2019 school year would remove most of these abilities for The Peer Counselors, removing confidentiality, small group meetings, and the 24-hour hotline. The administrative forces behind the shift in focus have not been entirely forthcoming with their reasons as to why these changes will, supposedly, be beneficial to the student body.
None of these changes are officially in place, and the story still developing.