College can be a stressful time for students who need to juggle rigorous academics, family expectations, social life, finances, etc. In the midst of all these stressors, it can be (and often is) difficult to take care of, and prioritize, one’s mental health. During the years students spend obtaining an undergraduate or graduate degree, a lot is asked from them not only academically, but also physically and mentally.
Brandeis 6TALK is a confidential mental health resource for undergraduate students at Brandeis to speak with a trained peer listener, according to their Presence page. As an anonymous peer hotline that operates from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. Sunday through Wednesday, they strive to help students with any mental health issues or general concerns that they may have, members of Brandeis 6TALK told The Brandeis Hoot in an interview.
Students can call Brandeis 6TALK with anything that’s on their mind; there’s no concern “too big” or “too small,” Brandeis 6TALK members told The Hoot. “We are trained in a wide variety of topics, but on a more general level, we are trained to validate the caller,” they further explained. “A lot of the times people think they have to have a “real” or “serious” problem to reach out for help, and that couldn’t be further from the truth. All feelings are real and valid, and we’re here to listen to whatever may be on someone’s mind.”
Although mental health issues are a growing concern for college students, according to an article by the American Psychological Association, only a small fraction of those affected students actually reach out for help from others. It can feel intimidating to speak to new, anonymous people about mental health issues, especially if a student is unaccustomed to doing so in the past. However, the Brandeis 6TALK crew are not only trained on how to approach a variety of topics, but are also college students who hold no judgement and may be able to relate to callers or understand what they are going through. The organization is completely anonymous and has the sole goal of helping other Brandeis undergraduate students.
All members of Brandeis 6TALK are required to go through more than 20 hours of training semesterly, members explained in an interview with The Hoot. The topics include: self-harm, eating disorders, sexual assault, drugs and alcohol.
6TALK members also go through practice sessions where they imitate what a call might look like and how to navigate it. Finally, in order to be accepted to join the hotline, applicants must undergo a practical testing section. This lengthy and thorough application process ensures that every member of Brandeis 6TALK is very committed, as well as educated and informed about any topic that student callers may want to discuss with them, Brandeis 6TALK members explained.
Due to the private and confidential nature of the hotline, members of Brandeis 6TALK told The Hoot that they could not disclose what their day-to-day operations and calls may look like, but a normal night involves waiting for calls and talking to students who ring in.
Since the coronavirus pandemic hit earlier this year, it undeniably has disrupted the daily lives and function of many people and groups, and Brandeis 6TALK is no exception. The biggest challenge they’ve encountered is training members and having meetings over Zoom instead of in-person.
The hotline has also cut down their hours due to the coronavirus pandemic, switching from being open every night to only Sundays through Wednesdays. However, the service is still up and running smoothly, with more than enough trained and educated team members behind the phone. The switch to virtual operations for Brandeis 6TALK has highlighted the resilience of current members and trainees and how dedicated they truly are. Despite this obstacle, 6TALK will continue to adapt to the situation while providing this service to the greater community.
As an organization that wants to help as many members of the Brandeis community as possible, Brandeis 6TALK wants all readers and students to know that despite the anonymous nature of the hotline, they still care about each and every student and want the absolute best for them, members of Brandeis 6TALK told The Hoot in an interview.
“It’s always okay to get some help, whether you feel like your problem is major or not,” they explained. “Sometimes the littlest things have big impacts, and sometimes you just need someone outside of your normal circle to talk to who won’t pass any judgement about you or your situation.”
Members of Brandeis 6TALK also explained their lines are always open and for prospective callers not to worry about taking time away from others. “All of your feelings are valid, even the ones you may not understand,” they told The Hoot in an interview. “We are here for you.”
If you are a reader who may be interested in either calling them or joining their team, all their information can be found on their Instagram and Facebook pages, which contains not only information about the organization, but also information about mental health. They told The Hoot in an interview that they guarantee that they will listen and support you through anything that you may have to say, and there is no topic that may be too overbearing or trivial for them.
Reaching out for support doesn’t have to be scary all the time, and taking care of your mental health can be a lengthy process—but no matter what, as long as Brandeis 6TALK is open, there will always be a place for students to call. If you are a Brandeis undergraduate student who needs someone to talk with, Brandeis 6TALK is available at 781-736-8255 (781-736-TALK).
Brandeis 6TALK has been aiming to help students at the university for quite some time. With an impressive and extensive legacy, this organization was previously known as the Brandeis Counseling and Rape Crisis Hotline. It was created in the 1970s at Brandeis, and although certain operations and the general structure may have shifted throughout the decades, the hotline holds the same mission: “to provide an anonymous and confidential place for people to talk about whatever may be on their minds.”