Dawsyn Wilson ’26  |  Published May 03, 2023

Mental Health Peer Educators

Madison Walker ’24 explains how the program works and why it’s so important to shed the stigma surrounding mental health.

MONMOUTH, Ill. – While playing competitive soccer in high school, Monmouth College junior Madison Walker of Vernon Hills, Illinois, made an important observation that had nothing to do with the techniques or tactics of her sport.

SCHOLAR-ATHLETE: Madison Walker is pictured on Scholars Day in April, receiving the Psychology De... SCHOLAR-ATHLETE: Madison Walker is pictured on Scholars Day in April, receiving the Psychology Department Award from Monmouth President Clarence Wyatt.“Seeing different players drop out or have different effects with mental health and competition, all that kind of pushed me to want to learn more,” said Walker, a standout scorer for the Fighting Scots and a Dean’s List student.

A psychology major, Walker has gotten the chance to learn more about the subject not only in the classroom but through her work with the College’s Mental Health Peer Educators program. As part of their work, Walker serves as a peer listener.

“During those hours, I’m available for formal sessions to talk with students about private areas or about stressors or difficulties,” she said. “I can also share coping skills or ideas about managing schedules or how to take a break.”


Psychology research

Alongside Jaxon Coleman ’23 of Washington, Illinois, Walker attended the recent Tri-State Undergraduate Psychology Conference and presented on the Peer Educators group and the work it does on campus. The experience was similar, said Walker, to how students presented their research and projects at Monmouth’s Scholars Day in April.

Their presentation detailed how the group began and explained the important role mental health programs play at colleges. At the conference, Walker learned that several universities were considering their own peer educator programs within their graduate schools to help their undergraduates.

Walker said she’s enjoyed working with other college students and helping to educate them about mental health. She also created a video that explains what the Mental Health Peer Educators do and how they can help students.

“We need to remove the stigma associated with mental health. If we’re all hiding behind our feelings, and all hiding and not sharing, then nobody’s going to be able to get past those issues and work through them.” Madison Walker


Walker has worked with younger students, too, making a presentation with Kalista Merrill ’23 of Colona, Illinois, on healthy relationships for nearby United High School’s Wellness Day.

GOAL-ORIENTED: Walker has led the Fighting Scots in scoring in each of the past two seasons, incl... GOAL-ORIENTED: Walker has led the Fighting Scots in scoring in each of the past two seasons, including 10 goals last fall.Overall, when it comes to educating others on mental health, Walker said she believes it’s important to remember that it’s OK to step back and focus on yourself.

“Understanding that everybody has mental health struggles and being open about it is the only way to make it better,” said Walker. “We need to remove the stigma associated with mental health. If we’re all hiding behind our feelings, and all hiding and not sharing, then nobody’s going to be able to get past those issues and work through them.”


Other activities

As part of her work with the Peer Mental Health Educators, Walker is involved with Mindful Mondays, which was created with the help of a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion grant through the College’s Center for Civic and Social Change. Walker said the weekly event “helps to spread kindness, daily affirmations and the little things that boost positivity in students.”

“My favorite activity involved small potted plants,” she said. “It’s a little fun thing that I think lasts a little longer than the others, and it just brightens up rooms.”

April 26, the day after Scholars Day, was proclaimed Denim Day, a project that began in Italy that’s dedicated to spreading awareness about sexual assault. The Peer Educators decided to support the project this year, and Walker said she benefited from the event.

“We want to be able to expand our peer listening hours and get to know the peer educators more, just to create more familiarity around our group, so people don’t feel nervous or uncomfortable coming to us. We want to stress that it’s a safe environment.” Madison Walker 

“I think learning more about that was important, and also learning about how nationally and internationally, people are coming together to protest,” she said. “There’s solidarity – it’s not only women supporting women but just people in general supporting each other.”

Mindful Mondays, Denim Day and the therapeutic “Paint Your Heart Out” event are just some of the events that the Peer Educators have sponsored this year and hope to continue providing in the future. The Peer Educators also hope to meet with Fighting Scot athletes next fall and provide mental health training.

“We want to be able to expand our peer listening hours and get to know the peer educators more, just to create more familiarity around our group, so people don’t feel nervous or uncomfortable coming to us,” said Walker. “We want to stress that it’s a safe environment.”

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