“I think there’s a misconception that Nightline is just for really serious problems, and we’re definitely there for that, but we’re also there for when you get a scary email from your professor really late at night, and you have no one to talk to about it. And then there’s the nonjudgmental piece about it: it’s not about getting on the phone and preaching to people and giving people advice, it’s really—one of our listeners described it as we become a mirror for the caller, and we’re there to help the caller reflect on what’s going on and explore what’s going on and help that person get to their own conclusions and plug them into long-term solutions.”
– Bwog Interview with past Director, Orly Michaeli (’14)
What should I expect when I call Nightline?
When you call Nightline, you can expect a calm, comforting voice to answer the phone. After that, what we talk about is up to you – Nightline offers a space where you can feel comfortable talking about whatever is on your mind. You can expect a nonjudgmental and empathetic ear to really listen to what you have to say.
What are some reasons that people call Nightline?
There is no one specific reason that people call Nightline. From relationships to eating disorders, from depression to academic stress, students call Nightline to talk about a wide variety of concerns, and no problem is too big or too small. Because our listeners are anonymous and non-judgmental, some of the normal stressors and anxieties around confiding in another person are absent in a conversation with Nightline. It can sometimes be easier to talk to a peer who can relate to what you’re going through or to someone that you don’t know.
Who picks up the phone at Nightline?
Nightline listeners are compassionate and committed undergraduate students of Columbia University. Each listener has trained by mental health professionals on issues ranging from academic stress to suicide and has successfully completed a certification process before beginning to work on the lines. All Nightline Peer Listeners remain anonymous throughout their time on the lines.
When you say that Nightline is ‘nonjudgmental’, what does that mean?
Nightline peer listeners are trained to help you organize and reflect on your own thoughts. Although they may provide referrals for other resources on campus, they will not provide personal opinions or advice. We prioritize a non-judgmental approach in order to create a space where you can feel safe and comfortable opening up about anything without fear of how the person listening might react.
What if no specific event or “thing” happened to me, but I just want to talk to someone?
Students call Nightline for a wide variety of reasons; by no means do you have to call about one specific event. Many students call to reflect on events in the past, ongoing concerns, and even just feeling lonely or down.
Is Nightline a suicide hotline?
Nightline listeners are trained to speak with students who are experiencing suicidal thoughts, but we are not exclusively a suicide hotline. A majority of our calls are not about suicide, and we encourage students to call to discuss any issue.
Is it worth calling Nightline just to talk, if a peer listener won’t actually be able to change my situation?
Nightline is here to get you through the night. Although a peer listener may not be able to directly change your situation, peer listeners are trained to provide appropriate resources and support, providing a safe space to explore what is on your mind. Sometimes it can be helpful to just talk about it and know someone is there to listen.
What if I bring something up and then realize I actually don’t want to talk about it?
It is completely appropriate to tell the peer listener that you do not want to talk about a particular topic.
Is it really anonymous? Do the phones have caller-ID?
Both Nightline callers and listeners remain completely anonymous. Our phones have no caller ID or call log.
If I’m more comfortable speaking with a listener of a certain gender, can I request to change listeners?
If you would feel more comfortable speaking to someone of a different gender than that of the listener that picks up the phone, don’t hesitate to mention your preference. It is not always possible for us to accommodate this request, but we will do our best.
What if I call and no one picks up?
Did you call between 10 pm and 3 am during the academic year? If so, it could be that all the lines are busy. Feel free to wait a few minutes and call back. If you are in crisis or need help right away, Barnard students should call the After-Hours Psychological Emergency Line at (855) 622-1903, and Columbia students should contact the After-Hours line of Columbia Psychological Services at (212) 854-2878.
Can I call Nightline because I want to share good news?
Yes! Nightline is always here to listen to whatever is on your mind.
If I’ve called before, can I call again?
Of course! However, please keep in mind that Nightline is a short-term resource, meant to help you get through the night. Nightline is not a substitute for the ongoing, personal support that a professional counselor or therapist can offer.
When is Nightline closed?
We are closed during academic calendar holidays (Winter break, Thanksgiving, Spring break, Summer break, etc.), and between the hours of 3 am-10 pm. We regularly update any other emergency changes in service on our Facebook Page.