Peer Support

Frequently Asked Questions

The official page for the uOttawa Faculty of Medicine Side by Side peer support program.

Side by Side is a peer support program that complements current mental health services available for our medical students. The program stems from the relationships medical students share and their expertise in understanding medical school challenges. Our 60 Side by Side Peer Supporters are medical students that are trained to provide support to peers.

The objectives are to improve help-seeking behaviours, reduce stigma and provide non-judgmental, accessible and confidential support to students from peers who have undergone training. Reaching out proactively to our peers and facilitating their pathway to resources remain the cornerstone of the program.

All medical students currently enrolled are able to apply to become a Peer Supporter. Recruitment takes place every year between June and September. Medical students with a passion for student wellness and mental health, with or without prior experience, are encouraged to apply!

Peer supporters receive 16 hours of mandatory training prior to starting their role, which includes basics of peer support, mental health in medicine, communication and counselling skills, resources available within the university and in the community as well as signs of distress and crises. The training tailors specific needs of our student population by combining information from the literature, other formal and local resources as well as psychiatrist expertise.

Students are welcome to contact their peer supporter of choice through their preferred communication method, including Facebook Messenger, telephone, in person, etc. We encourage maintaining the same means of communication that are already being used between peers.

Absolutely! Feel free to contact a peer supporter from any year of study.

Every encounter with a Peer Supporter is strictly confidential. Encounters are not shared with other Peer Supporters, the Side by Side executive team, the Student Affairs Office or any faculty member. However, if a student displays risk of self-harm, confidentiality may be broken to ensure safety. Peer supporters log basic information of their interactions into a database used exclusively for statistical purposes and to assess the effectiveness of the Side by Side program. Identifying characteristics and details of conversations are never imputed into the database. Access to the database is limited to the Side by Side executive team.

Side by Side is an independent student-run program that is not directly affiliated with the Student Affairs Office. This approach was favoured to minimize the several barriers that medical students face in seeking help.

Related Pages

Home

The home page of the Side by Side peer support program.

Resources

A list of mental health resources compiled by your Peer Supporters.

Peer Supporters

Get to know your Peer Supporters and learn about their interests!

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