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University of Erfurt sets up a telephone helpline for students

No working together on campus, no chatting over lunch in the refectory. Lack of money, pressure to learn and psychological stress: in times of Corona and distance learning, studying is not easy for many. But the solidarity among students at the University of Erfurt is all the greater for it. For the summer semester, they are launching a telephone helpline - from students for students. After all, who knows their worries better than they do?

The idea was born in October 2020 at a workshop of the University Health Management, during which a "Mental Health" working group was also founded. Members include professors as well as students from the CampusWELTEN university group and the student council. Both the university group and the student council had just conducted surveys of students on mental stress and the online semester, and it became apparent time and again that students on campus need to talk in many ways in this specific pandemic situation. "So the worry phone was really just the next logical step," says Hannah Schneider, who is currently writing her master's thesis in health communication and coordinates the worry phone. "And when AOK Plus - our cooperation partner in health management at the university - agreed to financially support the development of the project, it was clear: we'll do it."

After a two-day training course, students will be able to call the hotline on 0361/30252964 from 12 April to advise their fellow students on problems and psychological stress related to their studies and to refer them to further support services - anonymously, of course. The good thing about it is that it is an offer "at eye level" and it works regardless of location and without registration or appointments. Around 40 students signed up right after the first call and now want to volunteer at the helpline. "I'm glad that there are people who are confident enough to offer counselling in English, because the international students should of course also benefit from this service. They have even bigger hurdles to overcome - so far away from home, friends and family," says Hannah Schneider.

And when Corona - hopefully - is over at some point? Will the helpline be history then? "No," explains the coordinator. "The service is far too important for us to set it up only for the duration of the pandemic. For years, surveys of students in general have shown that psychological pressure is increasing. Corona is currently acting like a burning glass. I'm sure the need will still be there after the pandemic, which is why we want to make the offer long-term. The current idea is to 'transfer' the whole thing into a separate university group at some point. Of course, this stands and falls with the commitment of each individual. It is simply an offer from students for students. But with the current interest, I'm not worried about that for now!

The hotline starts on 12 April. The hotline can be reached daily from 7 p.m. to 11 p.m. and additionally from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays under the telephone number 0361/30252964. At times when the phone is not busy or another call is in progress, there is a recorded message with the necessary information.