UT University Health Services

What We Do

What is Peer Support?

Peer support occurs whenever people with similar life experiences give and receive support. College students often turn to peers (trusted friends, partners, siblings) first when they’re navigating a difficult situation or just need to vent, and having those close connections is crucial for mental health.

However, genuine social connection and belonging can be a challenge for many people during college, particularly in recent years and as demand for mental health support continues to rise. The Longhorn SHARE Project was created to address this need by providing opportunities for students to responsibly engage in non-clinical, reciprocal, mental health-focused peer support.

How is This Different from CMHC Counseling or Peer Education?

SHARE Support Specialists play a unique role in mental health support on campus, but peer support is not a replacement for therapy! In comparison with other programs and services that focus on academic adjustment, health promotion, or clinical intervention, peers in the Longhorn SHARE Project create spaces for fellow students to connect with and support others who share a similar lived experience, mental health struggle, identity, or wellness goal.

Peer Educators

Peer Educators organize health-related events and programs and lead educational workshops with student groups and in classrooms.

Peer Supporters

Peers facilitate supportive groups and individual conversations around a shared mental health concern, identity, and/or experience.

Mental Health Professional

Professionals diagnose and treat individuals with mental health-related issues and may also lead clinical therapy groups to improve clients' well-being

What Do We Do?

student at table

SHARE Support Specialists are fellow UT Austin students who have “been there” and are motivated by the desire to connect, reduce stigma, and support peers navigating similar challenges. Struggling with loneliness or impostor feelings? Anxious about future decisions? Unsure how to communicate your needs or boundaries? The Longhorn SHARE Project is here to listen. SHARE peers facilitate private conversations, community circles, and SHARE communities around a variety of topics, co-creating intentional, judgment-free spaces for peers and facilitators alike to share validation, coping strategies, growth, and authentic connection.

Who Can Benefit From Peer Support?

Most students can benefit from talking with other students about what they’re going through. Peer support is a great option for students who are want to learn how to connect or communicate better, to talk through their thoughts and feelings but need reassurance or more information before pursuing therapy. For students experiencing a crisis or a serious mental health challenge, the Counseling and Mental Health Center is a better fit.

What Training Do SHARE Support Specialists Have?

SHARE Support Specialists are UT Austin undergraduate and graduate students who have completed Mental Health First Aid certification and a full semester of training in active listening, motivational interviewing, group facilitation, and more. They are also well-versed in campus resources and can help their peers figure out additional support options on campus if needed.

Is Peer Support Confidential?

Conversations with SHARE Support Specialists are private, as are all SHARE communities they facilitate. Ensuring privacy is essential in establishing trust and reducing overall harm, and the Longhorn SHARE Project is committed to this goal. There are only a few exceptions:

  • For everyone’s safety, SHARE Support Specialists must take action if they believe a peer is at risk of imminent, serious harm to themselves or others. If they are unsure, Specialists may consult with their Program Coordinator or a clinician for guidance. Longhorn SHARE Project staff and students are committed to involving peers in decision-making whenever possible.
  • Information related to incidents of interpersonal violence or sexual assault must be reported to the UT Title IX Office. Reports do not require victims to proceed with a formal report or investigation, but usually result in a check-in from the Title IX office to provide support and information. Students seeking support for survivors of interpersonal violence are encouraged to connect with Title IX, the Interpersonal Violence Peer Support Program, or Voices Against Violence.


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