Combatting Faculty and Staff Burnout: The First Priority Peer Support Program

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In a recent contract with UCCS, the Community Training and Empowerment division of the Lyda Hill Institute for Human Resilience is launching a much-needed Peer Support program for the faculty and staff of UCCS in 2024. Faculty and staff face unprecedented mental and emotional challenges, exacerbated by the enduring impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. According to a 2022 Gallup poll, educators top the list for burnout levels, with 35% of college and university employees reporting frequent feelings of burnout. Recognizing the need for targeted support, institutions are turning to innovative solutions, with one standout program leading the charge - the First Priority Peer Support Program.

The First Priority Peer Support Program is designed to address the unique stressors faced by higher education staff and faculty. It operates on the principle of peer support, a vital avenue for providing social support within the workforce. This approach not only fosters a sense of camaraderie but also employs an empathetic surveillance model, actively monitoring and responding to signs of stress and trauma among colleagues.

Implementing a Peer Support model brings a myriad of benefits. Unlike traditional group-focused interventions, this program prioritizes individual reactions, acknowledging the nuanced nature of each person's experience. Furthermore, support is offered on an optional and confidential basis, ensuring a safe space for individuals to share their struggles without fear of judgment.

The program also emphasizes individualized assessments and referrals, tailoring support to the specific needs of each participant. Beyond addressing trauma resulting from critical events, the First Priority Peer Support Program defines psychological trauma more broadly, encompassing a range of stressors that impact overall well-being.

Moreover, the platform serves as a forum for discussing non-trauma-based issues and problems, recognizing that holistic well-being encompasses a spectrum of challenges. By doing so, the program not only enhances the use and effectiveness of natural trauma resolution and coping mechanisms but also acts as a cost-effective delivery of tiered psychological services.

In a landscape where faculty burnout threatens both personal and professional realms, the First Priority Peer Support Program emerges as a beacon of hope, offering a tailored, confidential, and effective solution to uplift the mental health and resilience of university staff and faculty. As higher education institutions grapple with the aftermath of the pandemic, prioritizing the well-being of their educators becomes not just an imperative but a first priority. For additional information about the First Priority Peer Support Program, visit


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