PCC’s personal counseling department recently introduced a new program that allows students to become peer counselors with the responsibility of being able to listen and give advice to students who need to talk about their mental health.

“As a student, I believe that sometimes talking about your issues or the things going on in your life to an adult can be kind of intimidating,” student peer counselor Nora Sfeir said. “You’re aware that they are much older than you and you can sometimes feel misunderstood by them.”

Sfeir, as well as other students who applied for the program were trained for months on how to deal with certain situations which include: leading group sessions, giving advice, what kind of questions to ask, as well as one-on-one sessions leading up to eventual real life situations that the student peer counselors will be prepared for.

The student-led program pairs those who want to talk about one’s own mental health problems or personal issues with someone who can understand and relate to their problems. A factor that could affect the well-being of someone’s mental health in today’s society is social media. According to a study published in Forbes, researchers found that the more time young adults used social media, the more likely they were to have symptoms of depression.

“We understand what it’s like to date in the digital era and being more intune with social media because we grew up in a world where that existed,” peer counselor Amanda Simeon said. “We are just more intune with what is going on in culture now.”

The program, which has been in the works since last spring was introduced to students by psychology professors looking for people who were interested in counseling or possibly majoring in the field of psychology to be a part of this unique program. For students like Gabe Bernardi, this was a perfect opportunity to enter the psychology field.

“I had relatively recently found out that psychology was the field I wanted to go into,” Bernardi said. “That being the case, to have an opportunity like that land right in front of me was actually kinda funny, so I figured I’d go and apply.”

With the program completing its first week on campus, expectations for the future are optimistic. Throughout the semester, as students stress about school, work and social issues, peer counselor Chris Morales wants PCC to know they are here to help.

“I think we are going to do really well,” Morales said. “Everyone [peer counselors] has this common trait of just being so client-centered, humanistic and seeing the goodness in all people and sincerely wanting to listen and help.”

The peer counseling office can be found in D-203 and is open on Monday’s from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. to 7 p.m., Wednesdays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. and Thursdays from 12 p.m. to 4 p.m.

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