Peer Health Exchange does something phenomenal when we pair college students with high school students. We create an environment where students not only obtain the knowledge, skills, and tools; they also feel empowered with a perspective that’s not so far from their own. Nora Spalholz a Leadership Council Member from our San Francisco State University chapter had an experience that makes our work so vitally important.
“Today our topic was about mental health. I did my best to go deeper with the subject matter because my students generally expressed feeling really comfortable discussing mental health. After the workshop one of my students (Asian male youth) approached me and said he wanted to talk about something, but he didn’t know how. I asked a few open-ended questions and he began talking about how he generally feels really isolated and lonely, and he’s not sure how to make friends. He feels pretty isolated at home too. I listened, reflected what I heard, and validated his feelings. The Host Teacher joined me in validating him and told him about a social group meeting on campus, as well as counseling services that the school offers. They said they could refer him to counseling. I think the student left feeling supported and heard. I felt honored that he opened up to me about this, and I was struck by his bravery in being vulnerable like that.”
As a preventative program, we make a difference to sustain, empower and encourage the lives of our youth! I’m sure what happened in the Bay Area, is shared amongst health educators and students all over the nation doing Peer Health Exchange!