Frequently Asked Questions

  1. Q: What is Peer Ears?
    A: Peer Ears is a residence-based peer referral program for MIT students. It’s a confidential service in which your neighbors and housemates can learn about and guide others on how to navigate MIT’s support services.

  2. Q: What makes Peer Ears different from MIT’s other services?
    A: Our program places an incredibly strong emphasis on addressing the anxiety, stress, and other pressures on mental health found in day-to-day campus life. It also reflects our belief that being a compassionate, informed part of one’s community can be - and should be - easy. Thus, our training focuses on providing skills to approach others, give references to services, and promote healthy habits.

    Peer Ears will also be the first program of its kind to interface with the residential safety net. Our “peer ears” - the program’s student advocates - would help GRTs check up on floormates, guaranteeing that a few people are always aware of the general well-being of their neighbors.

  3. Q: What kind of relationship would peer ears have with staff and clinicians?
    A: Each peer ear will be linked to the residential support system through the Division of Student Life, and will receive skills training from MIT Mental Health and Counseling (MIT MH&C). In return, peer ears may do the following:

    1. Periodically debrief only with MIT MH&C to share their feelings and experiences, without making specific or named references to other students

    2. Offer, only as necessary to assess the program, non-identifying, aggregated information on trends in usage and overall student response.

    3. Beyond this, any conversations that a peer ear has with another student would be confidential, unless the conversation indicates that someone would be harmed.

  4. Q: But there are already so many services out there! I barely even know where to start.
    A: That’s a fair point, and we hope to fix that. We want Peer Ears to bridge the gap between “minor” and “major” problems, as well as guide you if you’re new to MIT or don’t know where to go. Just talk about what you need, and you might get advice for common situations, or be directed to staff or other professionals for larger ones.

  5. Q: What is the end goal of this program?
    A: The goal is to bridge the gap between students and resources, to help educate students about mental health, and to provide a place to go in case one needs to talk. If one needs a bandaid, one might go to a Medlink, and if one is stressed, one might go to a Peer Ear. We hope to be that first line of support to help you and direct you if anything more is needed.

    Another, larger part of the reason we’re doing this is to get ideas flowing and to encourage more discussion and innovation in the field of student support and how we as a school can improve.