Georgian College enhances student mental health support with secure co-designed peer-to-peer Live Chat.

To enhance access to varied mental health support within a stepped care model, Georgian’s Mental Health and Well-being (MHWB) team worked with MEMOTEXT to co-design elements of a digital live-chat application to accommodate needs of peer-to-peer (P2P) mental health support and meet security and workflow related requirements. 

The Live Chat enables registered students to connect with Georgian’s team of MHWB Peer Supporters, who provide a safe virtual space to feel supported and heard. MHWB Peer Supporters are current Georgian students who have experience living with mental health and/or substance use concerns and have completed extensive training in mental health peer support, understanding of the nuances of text-based support and preparation for effective engagement.  The program further builds on the impressive engagement and connections being made by the Georgian MHWB team using advanced digital resources. 

The Live Chat platform was co-designed to ensure students living remotely and/or on campus could connect with confidence. Digital P2P support provides a channel for individuals to share their experiences anonymously and thus, more openly, leading to increased social support and reduced isolation. Overall, digital P2P support offers a valuable avenue for individuals to connect, share experiences, and receive support from others who have faced similar challenges. 

Student mental health challenges have increased significantly in recent years. Students are experiencing high levels of stress due to academic pressures, social transitions, financial concerns, and uncertainty about the future.  As such, there is a growing need for targeted and accessible mental health interventions that address the unique challenges faced by college students in the current context.   Georgian’s addition of P2P complements a range of available mental health supports and services, including counseling services, system navigation support, group programming psychoeducational learning opportunities.   

The digital peer-to-peer web-based secure chat is highly configurable and a hosted solution to ensure privacy, security and audit requirements are met. P2P chat can connect to all MEMOTEXT programming. 

By Jennifer Lloyd and Amos Adler

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