Student Support Network

What is the purpose of the Student Support Network?

The Student Support Network is a new component of the Houghton College Counseling Center. The program was initially designed at Worcester Polytechnic Institute by Director Charlie Morse and funded by a national grant from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). SSN members are selected and trained to enhance student awareness of mental health and wellness throughout the Houghton community. Our goal is for SSN members to eventually comprise a supportive network of students trained and committed to improving the quality of life for all members of the Houghton community. As appropriate, SSN members will also be given the opportunity to offer active and passive programming that will enhance the education, skill building, and personal growth to further fellow students’ well-being, coping, and resilience. SSN members will also be prepared to give information about the services provided by the Counseling Center and decrease the stigma associated with seeking counseling. As student leaders reaching out to other students, SSN members serve as positive role models for the campus community.

What do SSN Members do?

SSN members will be extensively and thoroughly trained in recognizing and describing mental health concerns and will assist their peers in locating appropriate resources either on campus or in the local community. SSN members will create a network that will raise awareness of mental health concerns among their fellow students.  As appropriate and possible, SSN members will have the opportunity to provide programming on a variety of topics including and not limited to: recognizing and coping with depression and anxiety, developing healthy relationships, and stress management. Although they will not provide counseling, SSN members will enhance interpersonal and support skills which will help prepare them to function in leadership roles where they live, learn and work.

What are the expectations and responsibilities of an SSN Member at Houghton?

  • SSN members will become knowledgeable about common mental health concerns of college students and be able to make effective referrals and increase help seeking behavior on campus
  • SSN members are approachable, good listeners, good leaders, respected by their peers, and good communication skills
  • SSN members are creative and are willing to look at problems from different perspectives
  • SSN members will strive to be positive role models within the Houghton community
  • SSN members will maintain confidentiality of fellow SSN members, and other members of the community

What are the benefits of becoming an SSN Member?

  • Learn valuable skills that will help in furthering your professional career
  • Help students in need by raising awareness of mental health concerns
  • Become part of a community service group on campus
  • Opportunity to meet new people within the Houghton community

What happens and what are the requirements for SSN training?

Peers are selected and supervised by staff members of the Counseling Center and must attend an initial orientation meeting, along with six scheduled trainings throughout the term. Training sessions will occur weekly and last up to an hour and a half and will cover topics including the nature of crisis and struggle, core support skills, recognizing and responding others’ distress, common student mental health concerns and awareness of key supportive resources on campus. The training sessions are highly interactive and focused on real issues and concerns. As the group of SSN volunteer grows, members will also encouraged to support other initiatives and activities organized by SSN including special interest sessions, peer education efforts and general advocacy to promote mental health on campus.

How do I become an SSN Member?

SSN members are students at Houghton College who promote healthy lifestyles and supportive resources on campus. We seek energetic, compassionate, and creative students with good social skills and good judgment who are committed to educating others about mental health issues and resources.

Applications will be accepted for the Fall and Spring Semesters each year.  Please contact the Center at extension 6220 for application deadline dates.  Applications are reviewed by a Counseling Center staff member to screen for appropriateness for the program. All applicants will be contacted with notification of their status with the program.

Apply for the SSN