UNC students can connect with and receive support from their fellow students through "Listen, Support, Navigate", or LSN for short.
The program is a part of UNC's recently launched Heels Care Network, a collection of support resources for students. LSN is a live chat feature that allows students to connect with peers anonymously.
It features undergraduate, graduate and professional student volunteers who can talk with students and help guide them toward other resources.
Samantha Luu, associate director for the UNC-CH Peer Support Core, said she understands that it can be hard to find students to ask for help and find the right mental health resources on campus.
“As a student, you're not necessarily seeking a staff member, you're seeking someone who's also in classes with you and might also live in a dorm and have similar experiences,” Luu said.
In a typical interaction, a support-seeker will initiate the conversation through the chat portal on the website, then a listener will introduce themselves and interact with the student according to their needs, which Luu said in an email.
Peer listeners must go through about 20 hours of initial training along with ongoing supervision and training, as well as check-ins with staff, according to Luu. Skills that are trained include empathetic communication and active listening.
“During initial training, we encourage LSNers to self-reflect on their own experiences and identities and how that may influence a supportive interaction in different ways,” Luu said in an email.
Luu said that the training curriculum includes lessons about peer support skills and mental first aid, as well as a requirement training related to a "high-priority" group that the listener does not identify with — such as the Safe Zone trainings through the LGBTQ Center, or Green Zone training to learn more about the experiences of military-affiliated students.