Stand up / Seas Suas: Promoting peer awareness, empathy and helping among third level students

Brady, Bernadine
Silke, Charlotte
Hughes, Ben
McGovern, Jimmy
Brady, Bernadine, Silke, Charlotte, Hughes, Ben, & McGovern, Jimmy. (2022). Stand up / Seas Suas: promoting peer awareness, empathy and helping among third level students. Pastoral Care in Education, 1-20. doi:10.1080/02643944.2022.2054022
The changing landscape of higher education and increased prevalence of mental health issues have placed pressures on universities to respond effectively to the needs of an increasingly diverse student body. Whilst higher education institutions provide support services to help students who are encountering difficulties, it often falls to fellow students to offer support. However, peers may lack awareness and knowledge about how to intervene or be reluctant to intervene due to the `bystander effect¿ that diffuses responsibility for action in group settings (Darley & Latane, 1968). This paper describes an initiative called Seas Suas; a programme developed by the Chaplaincy at an Irish university which encourages students to be more aware and observant of challenging issues impacting other students¿ academic and personal lives and to equip them with the knowledge and skills to respond appropriately. A mixed methods research design was undertaken to assess outcomes from the programme (N=193). Findings indicate that students showed higher levels of empathy, social responsibility and confidence in helping others after participating in the Seas Suas programme. The implications of the findings for pastoral care in higher education are discussed.
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