Students in Service and Leadership at Harvard

CARE Blueprint for Action

Through qualitative interviews and survey data from participating peer-education and per-counseling groups -- CARE, Response, SMHLs (Student Mental Health Liaisons), Indigo, HealthPals, and SHARC (Sexual Health Awareness & Health Communication), I have created a checklist with 3 measures to put in action!

* "emotional labor" portrayed a negative connotation of the work that these groups do when that is not always the case, so I will now refer to this as "emotional-activation" or "emotionally-activated work"


(1) Emotional Activation is mainly spurred by the consistent type of work and content peer-education and peer-counseling members interact with when supporting and being a resource for their fellow peers on campus.

(2) Emotionally-activating work can easily cause burnout of members because it is difficult to stay invested in the well-being of peers when it is often a one-way relationship and little explicit measure of impact.(3) An individual's ability to handle the emotional activation form their work and still perform at their best is dependent on how much self-care they do outside of their organization to self regulate and manage their emotions.


(1) Ensure every member has a role that they believe will make an impact.

The most frequent response individuals reported for staying in their organization, despite emotional activation and toll, is the belief in the mission and values of the organization and feeling as though they are leaving a positive impact on their peers. It is important that members have some ownership over an initiative, project, or event to feel they belong and add value to the organization.

(2) Hold consistent and intentional check-ins.

The prerequisite to this is building a community and friendships with members outside of the work environment so everyone feels comfortable opening up and being honest about their mental state. Check-ins can be formal (i.e. feedback forms, individual meetings) or informal (i.e. pre-meeting question: "How are you feeling at this moment? Thumbs up, down, or sideways.").

(3) Integrate self-care activities into your weekly schedule.

Whether it is a quick 5-minute meditation before the end of an organization meeting or a longer, 20-minute craft session, allow time for self-care activities as a group. This will also initiate group bonding and community to prompt a sense of belonging. Additionally, encourage members to self-care throughout the week, reiterating the importance of self-care for top performance.

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