Have you ever been filled up with stress, drama, or sadness without a way to release it all? Student SPILL (Supporting Peers In Laidback Listening) is an outlet for students seeking feedback, support, and resources. The company is still young but it is full of people motivated to make a difference. For Heidi Allstop, Founder and CEO, Student SPILL began as a college organization.
Allstop’s SPILL story begins around finals time her junior year of college. She was having a tough time and, like many college students, did not want to burden her friends. She contacted the counseling center but there was a two-week wait for appointments. Sitting in front of the library, Allstop observed her peers and saw problems bottled up inside them. She thought how nice it would be if there were a way for students to just spill their feelings anonymously.
Since its inception, Student SPILL has grown immensely. Any student with a “.edu” email address is eligible to “spill” at studentspill.com. Allstop is marketing the aggregated data to schools’ counseling centers so they may better serve their students. She says, “Universities don’t know what students are crying on their pillows about.” If you would like to partner SPILL with a university, you can sign up on the Student SPILL website.
Let me assume you want to spill, which I highly recommend. You write to your heart’s content and then wait for a response. Who is giving your feedback? This is the best part of SPILL. The responder is a student who has volunteered for SPILL. The text above your spill space sums it up perfectly, “Go Ahead. Spill. But remember, we are not trained as counselors. We are not medical professionals. We are just giving feedback… We are just students who relate with what you’re going through, and who want to give you a venue for letting problems out.”
The volunteers receive about five emails per semester. They provide the kind of perspective students want. According to Allstop, “about 75% of spills fall into four categories – school stress, relationship problems, friends, and roommate problems.” While SPILL successfully handles many critical issues, the void in mental care they primarily fill is for problems that fall in the middle ground, particularly the big four. Volunteers are trained to know when to respond with positive feedback, when to encourage outside counseling, and when to take action for the spiller’s safety.
Many volunteers elect to respond to specific issues they have experienced. This personalization makes the feedback process more fulfilling and, ultimately, more successful. If you are interested in becoming a trained volunteer for SPILL, go to studentspill.com and click “Get Involved.”
Student SPILL offers a great opportunity for students to volunteer and help their peers deal with bottled up problems. For you students not seeking this sort of volunteer experience, it is simply an amazing place to spill about what is bugging you and receive some feedback. If you or a friend needs “a venue for letting problems out,” you should definitely utilize Student SPILL!
Jessica Hoffmann is a Ball State University student from Lafayette, Indiana. She will graduate in the spring of 2012 with a major in Telecommunications – Digital Production and a minor in Theatre. Aside from studying, Jessica spends her time working at two jobs, serving as the President for the BSU chapter of National Society of Collegiate Scholars, and serving on the board for Indiana Zeta Alpha Psi Omega. She enjoys spending time with her friends and family, learning new languages, watching TV shows, and going to the movies.