By Kelly Corbett
Social Media Editor
Who do you confide in when your mind is heavy with fears, problems and emotions? You’re a college student with a couple bucks in your pocket, not nearly enough to shell out on therapy — and the real world doesn’t accept dining hall points. You’re frightened to tell your friends that you’re struggling and your family is so far away. It’s 3 a.m. and you’re skipping the shut eye as your mind races with thoughts and you rock back and forth in your extra-long, twin-sized, piece-of-rock bed. You need to talk to someone, but you’re confined to this campus. There are mentors and support groups on campus, as well as CAPS. There is help, but you’re still scared and you don’t want to watch the clock tick until morning. Everything is dark in your dorm and in your mind and the only light you have is your glowing LED screen and your laptop — and fortunately, that’s all you need in this tech-inclined world. Help is waiting for you on the same device that you send Snapchats from and dominate Candy Crush on. Best of yet, it’s free and it’s 24-7.
7 Cups of Tea “is an online emotional support service” providing live emotional support and self-help guides where anyone in need can log onto and connect “with individuals from all walks of life who want to provide compassionate care,” according to the website. All listeners on the site have completed an online course, created a listener profile and “Take an oath to keep everything private and anonymous,” said Tara O’Reilly, a campus leader of the app and senior clinical psychology major at the College.
“A lot of students use 7 Cups of Tea to vent about the stresses of college life: academics, sororities/fraternities, athletics, dating/the hook-up scene, etc.,” O’Reilly said.
As college students struggle with heavy book bags, a cruel workload and the drama pounding down on them of trying to figure out their life and who they are as a person — this smartphone app and website combo is a new resource that many people believe others should be made aware of.
“There are many students that are too afraid to seek help from CAPS or admit they are struggling to anyone,” O’Reilly said. “7 Cups of Tea allows that terrified student to seek help in an environment that they feel most comfortable, whether that be his or her bed, the library, the lib caf, or anywhere with internet connection.”
7 Cups of Tea was made available in the app store in the summer of 2013 by Glen Moriarty. One day at his kitchen table, as he confided to his wife, a licensed counselor, about an issue he was having, he realized the luxury of having someone to talk to all the time and wanted others to share the same opportunity.
The app’s name was inspired by a Chinese poem and suggests that each cup of tea provides a different level of healing. Furthermore, it’s significant that 7 Cups of Tea is a place where users can visit often and sip on several cups of tea with a friend, returning for more whenever their cup is empty.
According to O’Reilly, the site helps approximately 18,000 people a day, and a chat can range from 15 minutes to several hours depending on how much support a user needs.
O’Reilly, also a certified listener on the site, reveals, “as a listener, I don’t know the age, gender, ethnicity, location or anything about the people that I talk to unless they choose to tell me.”
Users on the site are not required to reveal anything they don’t want to — they are able to dish out as little or as much information they want to the listener.
“Everything is confidential and all communication is automatically deleted as the conversation goes on,” O’Reilly said.
The site also allows users to track their growth, join chatrooms, read self-help guides (maybe if they’re not in a sharing mood) and request their favorite listeners.
While college students battle with their emotions, not just on the College’s campus, but in all universities and schools, this app is a handy tool for those who need instant relief.
Whether you’re struggling with a huge crisis or just a small day-to-day issue, log on, sit down and relax. Your tea is on it’s way. You’re going to be OK!