There’s no question that uni can be a pretty stressful place, especially with those mid sem assessments looming. Here to Hear is a new after hours student helpline ready to help. Organised by Arc, Here to Hear is a confidential and anonymous listening service at UNSW, run by students for students.
The helpline, open 9pm-7am every night during semester, provides students with a safe space to talk through their thoughts on the phone or online chat. Trained student volunteers are here to hear about any issue and run a 100% anonymous, non-judgemental and non-directive service.
Blitz spoke to Ollie the Owl (to keep it anonymous) about what it’s like to be a Here to Hear volunteer…
Why did you choose to volunteer for Here to Hear?
Out of all the programs offered, I chose to volunteer with Here to Hear because I felt like I could really make a difference, even if it was only for one person. My friends often told me I was a good person to talk to, so I felt, with my abilities, this was something I could really do and just went for it. I also remembered all the times I went through a hard time and how helpful it was to have people to vent to.
What do you think are the best things about offering Hear to Hear to students?
It can be really intimidating to admit you need help at the best of times. It can be especially hard if you’re not comfortable speaking to a friend or walking into a counselor’s office. Offering an online and phone service allows students some anonymity and control during the process and this can make it a bit less of an ordeal. The fact that we’re all fellow students helps with this as well. We might not understand everything you’re going through, but chatting to a person your age and without fear of being judged can make all the difference.
What are some common issues that students want to talk about?
Students are free to talk to us about anything, so come as you are. But generally we get a lot of calls about stress (particularly related to uni stuff), family issues, relationships, loneliness and mental health concerns. We take all our calls seriously, and no issue is too small. Even if you don’t want to tell us what the issue actually is, we can always just talk about how the stress is affecting you and ways you might like to manage it.
What are some practical things students can do to manage their stress?
My best advice is to be kind to yourself. If you need a break, then take a break. Go play some guitar, or go for a run, or read a book, get your nails done, whatever. You’re allowed to get overwhelmed sometimes, so don’t punish yourself. There’s no shame in calling up a mate and saying “I’m not coping”. But if you’re not comfortable doing that, for whatever reason, you can always give us a call.
Nights on the helpline must be long, how on earth do you stay up at 3am?
It can be a bit hard staying up all night! Marathoning almost an entire season of Game of Thrones seems to do the job. Another volunteer and I spent a couple of hours building houses of cards at 4am when our fine motor skills were all asleep, which was pretty funny. And sugar, lots of sugar!
If you need someone to chat to, check out their page here or give them a call on (02) 9385 7700.
By Lyndon Christie