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Researchers from the Department of Psychiatry, Oxford University, Imperial College London and two third-sector organisations, The McPin Foundation and Youth Era are collaborating to co-design and deliver online peer support training for young people aged 16-18 years old in the UK.

Illustration of a woman being saved from drowning in a bottle filled with water by a man in a mask.
Image by Ellie Zahedi

COVID-19 presents diverse challenges for young people, and many report feeling lonely, anxious and lacking control. Young people often look to their peers for support, and during this time, many would like to provide support but feel they lack the skills to do this.

This project will explore the impact of being trained as a peer supporter on young people's support-giving behaviour, motivation and skills during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The training will be delivered to a sample of young people aged 16-18 years in a pilot, randomised controlled trial. The trial will test whether being trained as a peer supporter equips young people with the skills they need to help others during this time. The trial also investigates whether training as a peer supporter enhances adolescents' sense of agency and control over the COVID-19 crisis, and promotes their mental health and wellbeing (MHWB), relative to young people who do not receive the training.

The research team is working with a Young People's Advisory Group (YPAG) and a charity to develop training that gives young people the skills they need to support their peers during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

  

Peer support is a valuable tool when aiming to improve young people's mental health - particularly during the uncertain times we're living in right now. I'm so excited to be part of a project that is harnessing this in a positive way to tackle such an important topic.Ellie Brooks-Hall, Young People's Advisory Group.

 

The research is funded by the Higher Education Innovation Fund and ESRC Impact Acceleration Account through the University of Oxford’s COVID-19: Economic, Social, Cultural, & Environmental Impacts - Urgent Response Fund. 

Research will further explore young people’s experiences of taking part in the training and the perceived impact in their communities. Participants will be supported in producing blogs/videos/podcasts to share their experiences of training as a peer supporter. Results will be published in an academic journal.

 

 

We hope the project inspires further work that supports youth agency to strengthen our resilience to the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic.Dr Gabriela Pavarini.

 

The team of collaborators includes Professor Ilina Singh, Dr Gabriela Pavarini, Vanessa Bennett and Tessa Reardon from the Department of Psychiatry and Dr Emma Lawrance from Imperial College London.  

Learn about the COVID-19 Peer Support Project.

Read more about the charities involved The McPin Foundation and Youth Era

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