Test (related) anxiety, financial worries, loneliness and stress — those are only a few of the many troubles keeping students awake at night. Whom to talk to about suffocating thoughts at night? A couple of weeks ago Nightline, an initiative curated by the MLU, first opened its lines as a crisis hotline offered by students for students. The interview with Nightline Halle was conducted by editor-in-chief Marlene Nötzold for hastuzeit.
Thank you for this interview. Please, introduce yourself first. What is Nightline and what kind of support do you offer?
Hello. We are Nightline Halle. It’s a project providing low threshold support for students who face study related troubles or issues concerning their overall as well as psychological wellbeing. We offer our help through a telephone helpline every Wednesday and Sunday from 8 p.m. to midnight. You are encouraged to talk to us confidentially and anonymously about any worries that are on your mind but also about troubles which have been stressing you out for a while and won’t let you find sleep at night.
Who can reach out to Nightline?
All students based in and around Halle can call us.
The university provides a range of offers for students who require assistance/help/advice throughout their studies. How did you come up with the idea to establish Nightline in Halle?
Nightline isn’t our idea initially. It’s a concept already established in several other cities in Germany and Europe. Nightline aims to provide easily accessible help by the means of a crisis hotline: There are no prior appointments, no prior requirements, and non-directive communication. We will listen, and in conversation with you, we will offer to help you find clarity or new perspectives.
Many students suffered in isolation and the resulting solitude of the C‑19 pandemic and the feeling of being alone with problems revolving around studying. Is this a reason for bringing Nightline to life?
It is. The pandemic magnified existing problems and brought them to public attention. Psychosocial issues have always existed, also in young people, including students. May it be test anxiety, tensions in relationships or loneliness. The first and oftentimes the most challenging step in seeking help is to open up to someone about things stressing you and confide them in your trust. We hope that the anonymity and confidentiality we offer will help you open up.
How does a phone call with you work?
Our helpline is set out to be anonymous, confidential and non-directive. Everyone who calls us is allowed to take as much mental space and time as they need. You’ll tell us what you want to tell us, we are going to listen and ask one question or another to gain a better understanding. Perhaps as the dialogue evolves it will create a safe space to discuss ideas and possibilities of dealing with the situation in question.
Many know about telephone helplines in general. Where’s the difference to Nightline of Halle’s university/of the MLU?
Our service is created by students for students. The benefit resulting from it is that volunteers at Nightline are familiar with the challenges of everyday university life. Accordingly, we can relate to problems which are rooted in studying and a student’s life. However, we are no therapists and we cannot offer nor substitute a professional therapeutic assessment.
In which ways do you guarantee your caller’s anonymity and confidentiality/confidence/trust?
All of Nightline’s employees have completed privacy training and signed a non-disclosure agreement which states that we are neither allowed to ask you about nor write down any private data such as your name or other individual-related details.
Are there certain matters/issues/problems you are anticipating when someone calls and were you trained specifically?
Of course, we cannot know which issues our callers want to/need to discuss. There’s a lot of variety, including study related problems, stress due to exams, but also personal problems like relationship issues or loneliness. Our main aim is to listen, to ask questions and to be there.
Who works at Nightline and how do you train your employees?
Nightline runs with the help of volunteering students of the MLU as well as BURG. All staff of the Nightline who handle phone calls have been trained by two psychological supervisors/psychologists. They received training in communicative skills such as non-directive conversation styles or how to deal with different hypothetical issues and problems of the callers, but also data protection and teambuilding. Their training also includes practicing in small groups and managing conversations on the phone.
In which ways can students support Nightline and how can volunteers work with you?
Nightline Halle accepts volunteers who like to join us in helping others. Next to providing the telephone helpline there are variable tasks which need to be accomplished. Such as designing advertisements, setting up the rota, establishing contacts and keeping in touch with partners as well as field offices. If you are interested in supporting us, we encourage you to reach out to us at any time. Our mail address is provided on our official website www.nightline-halle.de.
If you want to support Nightline, reach out to us via mail.
How can students reach out to Nightline?
You can reach out to the Nightline on Wednesday and Sunday between 8 p.m. and 12 a.m. via 01522/513265. In case of change in available days and times, we will keep you updated on our website and on our Instagram profile.
Thank you for your time. Good luck with the project!
Nightline is supported by the student’s union as well as the student’s council Halle.
Regarding further problems that cannot be resolved by calling Nightline:
Psychosocial Counselling provided by Studentenwerk (Student Union?)
General Study Counseling:
Department für social issues of the StuRa:
Text and translation: Marlene Nötzold