Introduction as to what mental health, mental health services, and warm-lines are.
What the kinds of people and problems a warm line can help with.
Speak to how college life can place additional stresses on students, that combined with prior existing issues, can cause instability for an individual’s mental health.
What the cost/benefit analysis is for an introductory peer-run warm-line.
Discuss the existing stigma related to peer support while also wrapping up the paper to its conclusion.
How SUNY Old Westbury plays a role in this discussion.
Future potential for the project as well as what it will take to “fuel” it.
Previous research has supported the value of peer support for a variety of populations, including persons with chronic health issues (e.g., CITE), persons with special needs (e.g., CITE), and persons experiencing mental illness (e.g., CITE).
Mental Health & Warm-Lines
The maintenance of mental health is crucial for the wellbeing of all individuals. In the modern day there have been patterns of increases of mental health issues and challenges, many of which are attributed to challenges in modern living (McBeath et al., 2018). However, there are ways to meet the demand of maintaining mental health. Commonly referred to as “mental health services,” these supports provide recovery for mental issues that interfere with an individual’s daily living. In particular for this paper, warm-lines are a form of mental health service that act as a preventative measure for mental health as an early intervention against crisis situations. Namely suicide, which is the second leading cause of death among college students, as stated by Walther et al. (2014). Typically, warm-lines are telecommunication peer-support services. Peer-support services are those which are run by individuals who have commonalities with the population they serve. For example, if a warm-line was specifically set up for servicing individuals with depression, the line would ideally be staffed by individuals who have recovered, or maintain, their depressive symptoms. In this way not only do those who staff the line feel empowered by being able to help others, but those who utilize the services also receive support and guidance with how to navigate the negative emotions and challenges they face.
Populations & Problems Addressed by Warm-Lines
A warm-line can be geared toward any imaginable population. It is not exclusive to mental health, and a single program can be made to be capable of handling a variety of different situations. Data also shows that warm-lines tend to have capabilities of handling crisis situations (Reference), though this is typically just to be able to help an individual until they can be transferred to a crisis line or service. Equally, warm-lines also can service issues of loneliness that may not be connected to more serious mental health, but could lead to such situations if not attended to (Reference). Additionally, by utilizing peer-support, the potential for community building opens up as underlying issues that affect the well being of the population become better understood by the service. For these reasons a warm-line stands to fill a very important role for the students of SUNY Old Westbury.
College Life vs. Mental Health
For many students, college is the first time they are away from home and on their own. This new journey takes students away from their past support systems such as family and friends. As such, they are more likely to feel vulnerable at college and are more susceptible to peer pressure (Mason et al., 2014). Many times, students with Mental Health issues find their symptoms worsen in college and students without prior issues may begin to experience mental health issues due to the stress (McBeath et al., 2018).
Warmlines provide a low-cost option for individuals who are in need of emotional or mental support. These peer support services provide early intervention that can prevent a crisis. Utilizing a warmline is typically free and confidential and can be a cost-effective option for those who require these services. (Solomon, 2004)
Peer Support & Stigma
SUNY Old Westbury
The campus of SUNY Old Westbury is home to a unique population of students and faculty. Not only for ethnic diversity, but also cultural and religious as well. Additionally, the students of the campus come from all walks of life. Each individual student faces challenges, be they ethnic, cultural, religious, financial, mental health related, social, or daily living challenges such as having a child. By providing peer-support, any arising issues faced by the student body can be met with empathetic social support that additionally stands to deepen both an understanding of mental health, as well as, the unique community that lives and learns at SUNY Old Westbury. Furthermore, it should go without saying that improvements to general mental health among the community will likely help students to excel in their academic duties irregardless of their degree of study. As well as generate the possibility for the creation of other social services that can deepen the social structure and identity of an OW student. Moreover, providing such services speaks to the very mission of SUNY Old Westbury, as the institution itself seeks to provide an equal and equitable educational environment for all students regardless of who they are or where they have come from.
Of course no endeavour worth having comes easy. It is recognized that to implement such a service and vision will require not just an interdisciplinary approach, but also passion and dedication by both students and faculty. However, let it be said that there may be no college more dedicated to these ideals as SUNY Old Westbury. For while such a task may be daunting for others it is SUNY Old Westbury that has always strove to push the boundaries of learning on the aforementioned ideals. To establish such a support network will take cooperation from both students and faculty from many different departments and offices. By working together the warm-line can easily represent the very heart of SUNY Old Westbury’s ideals and motivations. Even amid the difficult environment presented by the global pandemic COVID-19. It is for all of the above aforementioned reasons, as well as the aforementioned empirical data collected, that it is felt SUNY Old Westbury would greatly benefit from the implementation of a warm-line service that utilizes peer-support.
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Mason, M. J., Zaharakis, N., & Benotsch, E. G. (2014). Social networks, substance use, and mental health in college students. Journal of American College Health, 62(7), 470–477. https://predator.oldwestbury.edu:2156/10.1080/07448481.2014.923428
McBeath, M., Drysdale, M. T. B., & Bohn, N. (2018). Work-integrated learning and the importance of peer support and sense of belonging. Education & Training,60(1), 39-53. doi:http://predator.oldwestbury.edu:2086/10.1108/ET-05-2017-0070
Morse, C. C., & Schulze, R. (2013). Enhancing the network of peer support on college campuses. Journal of College Student Psychotherapy, 27(3), 212–225. https://predator.oldwestbury.edu:2156/10.1080/87568225.2013.798222
Naslund, J., Aschbrenner, K., Marsch, L., & Bartels, S. (2016). The future of mental health care: peer-to-peer support and social media.Epidemiology and Psychiatric Sciences, 25(2), 113–122. https://doi.org/10.1017/S2045796015001067
Solomon, P. (2004). Peer Support/Peer Provided Services Underlying Processes, Benefits, and Critical Ingredients.Psychiatric Rehabilitation Journal, 27(4), 392–401. https://doi.org/10.2975/27.2004.392.401
Walther, W. A., Abelson, S., & Malmon, A. (2014). Active minds: Creating peer-to-peer mental health awareness. Journal of College Student Psychotherapy, 28(1), 12–22. https://predator.oldwestbury.edu:2156/10.1080/87568225.2014.854673
Walter et al. (2014)