Berkshire School’s Peer Listening Program

Sierra Posey '22, Staff Writer

New to Berkshire School this year, the Peer Listers program is made up of a committed group of 21 students who have invested their time into training to better support the mental health of students on campus. This safe space, available to all students on campus and virtually, fosters a supportive environment for confidential peer to peer interaction. 

This past September, these 21 students were led by the Berkshire Counseling office through a ten week training program that harnessed skills centered around crisis response, active listening, and problem solving. Second year junior Kiro Manoharan described her excitement towards becoming a peer listener this fall: “I wanted to connect with my peers on a personal level, but most importantly be able to offer that help when needed, and Peer Listeners was a perfect program for that.”

It goes without question that the COVID-19 pandemic has been taxing on everyone’s mental health in different ways. The Peer Listeners program was founded to provide an additional layer of support towards the mental health on campus that can supply students with a comforting hand through the rocky waters we have all been navigating over the past year. 

When asked about the learning outcomes in having the Peer Listening Program, Director of Counseling Tess Adams shared her insight: “I think it’s really normalizing because once you begin to learn about mental health you realize that everyone is navigating their own story and their own journey.”

Midori Fitzgerald ‘22 reflected on her decision to join the Peer Listening program this fall: “I chose to be a peer listener because I want to provide a safe place for people from a wide range of social identities to be heard and understood without judgment. COVID can make many of us feel isolated and detached, not to mention the demands of life at a boarding school which can feel really stressful at times. I think talking with another student who can relate and is eager to be supportive can be very helpful.”

With 2021 graduating seniors as a part of the Peer Listers group this year, the Counseling office will be opening up applications in March of this year for those interested in taking a leading role in the emotional wellbeing of their peers on campus. 

Students who are interested in connecting with a Peer Listener themselves can look for flyers around campus or email the Counseling office or any of the Peer Listeners listed on the flyer below.