Every academic year, thousands of students become members of their school's student council. This popular extracurricular activity provides an opportunity for students to take on a leadership role and to make a positive difference in their school community.

Role of Student Councils in Supporting Peer Wellbeing

Student councils can play an important role in supporting peer wellbeing. One way they can do this is by establishing a mentoring program. Mentoring programs pair students who are struggling with a particular issue with a more experienced student who can offer guidance and support.

Mentoring programmes can address a variety of issues that impact peer wellbeing.  By implementing a mentoring programme, student councils can help create a culture of care and support among their peers. Here's how:

Create a Safe and Inclusive School Environment

As the leaders of their school community, student council members have the ability to set the tone for peer interactions. By creating an inclusive environment where all students feel welcome and valued, and that they belong student council members can help create a culture of care and support that extends beyond the classroom. One way to do this is to ensure that your school's mentoring program is open to all students, regardless of academic ability or social standing, helping ensure a diverse range of voices can be heard.

Being Wellbeing Role Models

Members of the student council, are in a unique position to serve as role models for their peers. Modelling positive behaviour, such as active listening and showing empathy, being empowering and supportive can go a long way in promoting peer wellbeing. They can play an active role in signposting to support and reducing barriers to mental health support for other young people in their school or college.

Student council members can also set an example for peers by seeking help from a trusted adult when they are feeling overwhelmed or stressed. Demonstrating that it is safe to ask for help and that seeking support is a sign of strength, not weakness, can encourage others to do the same.

Offering Support and Encouragement

It's important to offer support and encouragement to your mentee throughout the mentoring relationship. This includes celebrating their accomplishments, both big and small, and being there for them during times of difficulty or setbacks, reminding them that they are not alone in whatever they may be going through.

Sharing Support and Strategies for Mental Health and Wellbeing

It's also important to provide your mentee with accurate information about resources that are available to them, such as mental health services, young carers support, LGBTQ+ groups or bullying prevention programmes that help vulnerable cohorts and protect their mental health.

Encouraging Open Communication

Student council members can help create an environment where open communication is encouraged. This means creating opportunities for students to share how they are feeling and what they need to feel supported. One way to do this is to lead or establish peer mentoring or Wellbeing Ambassador programmes.

How Student Councils Can Promote Peer Mentoring

As someone who works with or oversees a student council, you understand the importance of promoting peer wellbeing. In addition to academic success, students need social and emotional support in order to thrive both inside and outside of the classroom. Luckily, there are a number of things that student councils can do to promote peer wellbeing, one of which is mentoring.

What Is Peer Mentoring?

Mentoring is a process whereby an individual (the mentor) provides guidance, support, and advice to another individual (the mentee) with the goal of helping the mentee reach their full potential. When it comes to student wellbeing, peer mentors can play an important role in helping students develop positive relationships, managing stress and anxiety, setting goals, and more.

Benefits of Having a Mentor

There are many benefits to having a mentor, both for the individual being mentored and for the wider school community. Some of the benefits of having a mentor include:

  • improved social skills
  • better self-esteem
  • improved academic performance
  • improved attendance
  • decreased involvement in risky behaviours.

How Student Councils Can Run a Mentoring Programme

If you're interested in implementing a mentoring programme within your school or student council, there are a few things you'll need to do:

1. Define the purpose of your mentoring programme. This will help you develop concrete goals and objectives and help you select an effective training programme for example our Wellbeing Ambassadors Programme trains young people to lead peer wellbeing support.

2. Recruit mentors. This can be done via a sign-up sheet or online form. Be sure to provide potential mentors with information about what the programme entails as well as what is expected of them. You may also want to provide some training for your mentors (more on that below).

3. Recruit mentees. As with recruiting mentors, you'll want to make sure that potential mentees know what they're signing up for. You may also want to consider matching mentors and mentees based on interests, personality traits, or other factors.

4. Train your mentors (and optionally your mentees). While not required, training can be helpful in setting everyone up for success. Some topics you may want to cover include active listening, how to manage stress and how to share strategies for wellbeing. If you decide to train your mentees as well as your mentors, be sure to keep things age-appropriate.

5. Develop guidelines and expectations for both mentors and mentees. These should be discussed at the outset and may be revisited throughout the programme as needed. Topics you may want to touch on include boundaries, confidentiality, safeguarding, disclosure of personal information, frequency/duration of meetings, etc.

By running a mentoring programme within your student council or school community, you can help promote peer wellbeing amongst students while also reaping a number of benefits for everyone involved. Use the tips outlined above to get started!

Support and Train your Student Council

Student voice is recommended by the Department of Education and Public Health England as integral to a whole school approach to mental health and wellbeing. The role of student councils in developing and implementing these recommendations can be crucial in ensuring their effectiveness.

Student councils play an important role in promoting peer wellbeing within their school communities. By implementing a mentoring programme such as Wellbeing Ambassadors student council members can help create a culture of care and support among their peers. In doing so, they will not only make a positive impact on individual students but on the entire school community as well.

Find out more about how to lead a peer lead wellbeing programme by accessing our Free Wellbeing Ambassadors Cheatsheet. Learn more about our Wellbeing Ambassadors programme by accessing our FREE introductory webinar inside our Wellbeing Academy.

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