TOTEM: Peer Mentoring Course

Young people told the RAISE Team they wished their friends knew how to support them if they were struggling with their emotional wellbeing.

Working in collaboration with Liverpool CAMHS Partners and young people, the RAISE Team developed ‘TOTEM’, an interactive, award-winning peer mentoring offer for secondary schools focusing on mental health.

What is TOTEM?

Designed and developed by young people for young people, ‘Talking Openly To Embrace Mental Health’ (TOTEM)’ gives them the skills to become confident peer mentors with a specific focus on mental health and emotional wellbeing; empowering them to champion mental health and tackle stigma within their school or organisation.

This peer mentor course focuses on mental health- specifically, it enables young people to recognise the signs and symptoms, understand what mental health is, build resilience and teach them how to have a conversation with someone who is struggling with their mental health.

What age groups is TOTEM aimed at?

TOTEM can be delivered to any year group, but typically, schools select pupils from years nine onwards so they can support the lower age groups. You can choose a cohort of up to 20 young people, which can be from one particular year group or a mix across the year groups.

What happens after the course?

After completing TOTEM, these young people – the Peer Mentors, effectively become the “Mental Health Champions” within their school, planning, developing and implementing activities to smash stigma, such as assemblies, lunchtime clubs, awareness-raising sessions, etc.

What does the course cover?

Day 1:

  • Personal skills, qualities, abilities and areas of development
  • Roles and responsibilities of a peer mentor
  • What makes a good peer mentor?
  • Situations a peer mentor may need to mentee someone in.
  • What makes a good/positive role model?
  • Confidentiality
  • Role play and case study scenarios.
  • Resilience: What it means & why it is important to build resilience.

Day 2:

  • Mental health – what is it, who’s got it, why do we need to talk about it?
  • Mental health and mental illness
  • Stigma, myths and facts around mental health and mental illness
  • Stress bucket – what stresses young people out / what worries them, and what effect does this have on young people’s mental health?
  • Mental health continuum – we’re all on it.
  • Mental Illnesses – what are they?
  • How resilience can help with mental health
  • DRAGONS DEN: How do you want peer mentoring to look in YOUR school/youth group?

The 2-day course will finish with a Dragons’ Den style activity, where the groups will work together to plan how they will implement peer mentoring within their school or youth group and pitch it to a panel of teachers/youth leaders/other young people.

School/Youth Group Requirements

  • A group of around 20 young people
  • Pre-course meeting with MYA member of staff to go through the course and any questions
  • A teacher/leader is to be present over the 2 days so they are familiar with the content
  • Give MYA names of assigned members of staff in the school/youth group that the peer mentors can go to if they need advice or have a conversation that they are worried about. This person will be someone who can support the group and arrange termly meetings with the group to catch up and support them. (MYA staff will support these meetings too).
  • A monthly short 2-minute survey to be completed for feedback
  • At least 3 members of staff are to be on the dragon’s den panel for the final hour on day 2.


What will the student get out of it?

All young people who take part in the peer mentoring programme will receive a certificate and a badge, along with a great detail of information on peer mentoring and mental health, and a fun 2 days!

MYA staff will also support the group by having termly group meetings with them to see how they are getting on and if they need any extra support.


To register your interest in this programme click here