“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. We take calls about academic and career stress, relationship issues, family troubles–the list goes on and on. 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.

What’s with your new “crisis” policy?

We at Nightline define a crisis as a situation where a caller is at risk of hurting themselves or others. Usually, we are open to speaking with students in these situations. However, we must temporarily ask that if you feel that you are in crisis, you contact a more urgent resource, such as those listed below.  This is because, since students are currently scattered across the globe, we are unable to get you tangible, physical help should you request it. For the time being, we must redirect you to a resource that can in order to get you the best help as soon as possible. Below are some student-specific phone numbers that fit the bill:

  • Furman Clinician on Call (1-855-622-1903, 24 hrs/wk)
  • Columbia’s Counseling and Psychological Services (1-212-854-2878, 24 hrs/wk)

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 a variety of topics and has successfully completed a certification process before beginning to volunteer 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 we may suggest helpful coping mechanisms and provide referrals for relevant resources, we 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 simply reflect, to talk about how they’ve been lately, or to cheer up when they’re feeling lonely or down.

Is Nightline a suicide hotline?

Nightline is not a suicide hotline. If you feel that you are in immediate danger of harming yourself, the following  resources will be able to provide you with more immediate assistance:

Columbia/Barnard Specific:

  • Counseling and Psychological Services’ Clinician-on-Call, available 24/7: (212) 854-2878
  • Furman Counseling: Between the hours of 9am – 5pm call (212) 854-2092 and indicate “urgent” for same day appointment.
  • Columbia Public Safety (On-Campus Only): (212) 854-5555
  • Barnard Public Safety (On-Campus Only): (212) 854-6666

Non-Columbia/Barnard Specific:

  • National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (USA): 1-800-273-8255
  •  Crisis Text Line: US and Canada: text 741741. UK: text 85258. Ireland: text 50808
  • Dialing 9-1-1  (USA)
  • Traveling to the nearest psychiatric emergency room.

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? 

Both Nightline callers and listeners remain completely anonymous to eachother. Nightline listeners take your anonymity very seriously–no one you speak to on our lines will ever find out who you are.

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 Nightline and someone I know answers?

If you call Nightline and think you may recognize the listener’s voice, it is completely OK to request to speak to somebody else.

What if I call and no one picks up?

Did you call during the academic year and during the hours listed on our website? If so, it could be that all the lines are busy. Feel free to wait a few minutes and call back.

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 at times outside of our operating hours. We regularly update any other emergency changes in service on our Facebook Page.