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An interview with a “Look after your friend” student trainer

In collaboration with UT Student Psychologists, the SU offers “Look after your friend”-trainings. These are intended for those interested in wanting to know more about how they can be there for their friends regarding their wellbeing and how to make them feel heard, without letting their problems affect them too much. A student was interviewed about her experience as a trainer, and how she feels the program is making an impact. 

WHAT IS THE REASON FOR SETTING UP THIS INITIATIVE, AND WHY DID YOU PERSONALLY CHOOSE TO PARTICIPATE IN THIS INITIATIVE? IS THIS BECAUSE OF CORONA OR WERE THERE OTHER TRIGGERS AS WELL?

“This initiative was set up after receiving survey results from UT students, which showed that most students will first approach a friend if they are having problems related to their well-being. The training was subsequently set up by the UT Student Psychologists, in collaboration with the Student Union as part of the ‘Student Wellbeing Implementation Plan.’

I myself became involved with student welfare during my board year at A.S.V. Taste. We were looking for such a training for our members, but it didn't exist at that time. When the vacancy for this training became available at the end of my board year, I immediately applied so that I could contribute to student well-being.”

WHAT IS THE ROLE OF THE UT STUDENT PSYCHOLOGISTS?

“The UT Student Psychologists fully designed and set up the training. Then they trained us to deliver the training. We now meet regularly with them to discuss any difficult issues and to learn even more. If points for improvement arise from the feedback from participants, we also discuss this with them and they then see whether they can adjust the content accordingly.”

WHAT IS THE CONTENT OF THE TWO SESSIONS? WHAT WOULD YOU KEEP THE SAME, AND ARE THERE THINGS YOU WOULD CHANGE OR DO DIFFERENTLY?

“In the first session, of course, the participants get to know each other. Then we discuss together how you can start a conversation with someone who you suspect has issues related to well-being. We also look at how you can support someone in navigating their way through student life.

In the second session we go deeper into different diagnoses and what they mean. We also show what kind of professional help is available for students and non-students and how you can best refer someone to it. We also talk about suicide prevention: a tough subject, but good to think about. In both sessions there is a lot of room for discussion and to share stories and experiences with each other. I think that's the most valuable part for most participants.

We are currently looking at whether we can add tips for setting one's own limits while offering help to others. We think this could be a valuable addition for many students.”

WHO IS THE TARGET AUDIENCE OF THE TRAINING? WHO WOULD YOU RECOMMEND THE TRAINING TO?

“Actually every UT student! For example, if you sometimes encounter stress, suffer from depression, have friends who you would like to help better, are a trusted contact person of your association, or are simply interested in student well-being, the training can be useful for you.”

HOW DID THE SESSIONS DURING THE FIRST QUARTILE GO? DO YOU FEEL THAT PEOPLE GET ADDED VALUE OUT OF IT?

“Good! It is very nice that we can now give the training sessions physically, which gives much more room for discussion. We also received good feedback from the participants. For example, someone immediately applied a certain conversation technique that he had learned in the first training and was very enthusiastic about this in the second training. We also notice that participants help each other a lot in the sessions, with the knowledge that they already had and gained during the training. We also had a group who then created a Whatsapp group with each other so that they could stay in touch. Such things are certainly not necessary, but it is very nice if the participants come up with this themselves and I think it says a lot about the atmosphere during the training!

Would you like to participate in a training? You can check out the available dates, be kept up to date, and sign up via this Canvas page or check out the SU website