It’s hard to feel alone when apps like Student Spill offer a confidential peer support system for college students. Students can anonymously “spill” (i.e. vent) about their personal difficulties and receive feedback, encouragement, and resources within twenty-four hours from Student Supporters who are other college students trained in empathetic listening.
Heidi Allstop, the founder and CEO of Spill, Inc., was only a junior at University of Wisconsin–Madison when she initiated the venture in early 2009. “I honestly was just going through a hard time in my own life,” Allstop said. “I hated that there wasn’t a way for us to connect around common college issues we were all going through but were too embarrassed to talk about. Counseling is great, but sometimes you just want to hear from other people your own age who can relate.”
From dealing with hardships on her own, Allstop decided it was time to do something to connect her fellow college students. Spill was that something. “It was a day-by-day invention… I wrote out the idea and applied to make it a student organization,” said Allstop. After her school approved Student Spill, Allstop and her team created a Google website and publicized the organization around campus via flyers and a large poster. Over one hundred students signed up to become Student Supporters. Spill was a success and eventually spread to numerous campuses across the country.
So, what are Student Spill leaders from different chapters saying about the support network?
“I feel like it helps give students more of a security in knowing that other people have gone through what they are going through. Even though it is all anonymous, it still is uniting the students.”
-Amanda Votava of the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse chapter
“It makes me really happy knowing my struggles not only taught me a lesson but can help someone else… I want to keep working to take the stigma off mental health issues and hopefully educate more students. Like I said, helping people makes me happy and Spill allows me to do that.”
-Sarah Watler of the UC Berkeley chapter
“I wanted [the students] to know that it’s okay not to have it all together all the time. It’s okay to have problems and to talk to people about them… It just goes to show that you don’t have to do grand, amazing things to make a difference in people’s lives. Sometimes all you need to do is take a little time to listen to someone who needs it.”
– Sarah Benkendorf of the Emerson College chapter
If you ever feel overloaded with problems during college, remember that there are compassionate Student Supporters at Spill who are ready to help you. You are not alone!