Young people turn to peers for support

By Marc Membrere 05 December 2021, 7:48PM

A lack of therapists on island has led to the creation of a programme to train young counsellors to help their peers navigate mental health issues and life problems. 

Not-for-profit organisation Brown Girl Woke (B.G.W) led the training which was funded by the European Union-funded Spotlight Initiative and held in conjunction with existing student support group the Peer2Peer Initiative.

The Founder of B.G.W, Maluseu Doris Tulifau, told the Samoa Observer on Sunday that Several students from the National University of Samoa (N.U.S) and the University of the South Pacific (U.S.P) Samoa Campus took part in the training.

“Earlier this year we received a lot of messages from youth having suicidal thoughts and wanted to make we had peer counselors at the schools in case they can’t message or email us,” Maluseu told the Samoa Observer on Sunday.

“I had conversation from therapist Moana Solomona dealing with a lot of youth from college and university that needed counseling for the same reasons, suicidal thoughts.

“We seen that the rate of suicide has been going higher.

“This year a reported two N.U.S. students have [died by suicide] and because Brown Girl Woke already trains and empowers university students and scholarships we wanted to make sure we can also train peer counselors to help fill this gap.”

Maluseu had then said that there is a lack of therapists on island as it is also not a career or degree that everyone takes but is needed in our country

“We had eight graduates, [seven of whom are] already members of Brown Girl Woke and  Peer2Peer, both programmes that support and encourage youth. The best part is making sure to find the right youth to do this work [... for] 3 months and four hours a week,” she said.

“We are already running counseling workshops with sport teams,  Peer2Peer group, N.U.S and open [speaking sessions] at U.S.P. just to promote the services to youth.

“It’s almost a known fact that the youth would rather go to their friends than adults but we need to make sure that their go to person knows resources and has a listening ear.

“A lot of the skills were built on learning to be active, listen, [practise] no judgement, and [ensure we have the] resources on the island to save a life.”

 

By Marc Membrere 05 December 2021, 7:48PM
Samoa Observer

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