During COVID-19, peer-to-peer support has become more valuable than ever. The Sky Center Natural Helper program is currently going strong in this new virtual world with almost 200 students from 8 Santa Fe schools meeting weekly as they adapt to doing their powerful work across a digital platform.
The Natural Helpers program provides training to students who have been identified as “listeners” by their peers and school staff. Natural Helpers are trained with helping and listening skills so that they may connect vulnerable peers to trusted adults and other appropriate resources.
Students continue to cultivate their robust social networks to implement service projects that aim to support connection with their peers during these times of isolation, and that provide resources to promote mental wellbeing.
What We Provide
Intensive training retreats, held in the fall and spring of each school year, provide a safe, comfortable, supportive, and confidential setting where Natural Helpers can learn about and discuss behavioral health issues such as depression, anxiety, substance abuse, risky behaviors, self-harm, and suicide.
The Program Coordinator instructs Natural Helper groups in understanding and observing the warning signs and risk factors for suicide and how to take direct action to keep their peers out of harm’s way.
Natural Helpers also learn how to care for themselves while building a toolbox of resiliency skills. Values of tolerance, inclusion and empathy are strengthened as Natural Helpers support the most vulnerable in their school communities.
I learned that you shouldn’t necessarily give advice to someone who needs help but you should have them come up with something. I also learned how direct and straightforward you need to be when having that conversation.
It helped and taught me different skills of communication that I can use in basically every conversation, not just when I am a “natural helper.”