Emory campus building in fall

“No one, except their advisors, has any idea who these volunteers are."

By Adrienne S. Harris, Contributing Writer, Campus Life

Every day that classes are in session—from 8:30 p.m. to 1 a.m., Monday through Sunday—an unknown group of undergraduate students convenes at an undisclosed location on campus to take calls on the Emory Helpline, a service managed by Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS), a Campus Life organization.

This corps of volunteers has been carefully selected and rigorously trained. They listen on the phone as their peers share concerns about stress, anxiety, depression, sexual identity questions, relationship problems, family matters—and even thoughts of suicide. Volunteers offer callers empathy and ideas for coping, as well as referrals to other resources for help.

Helpline logoStressed? Call Emory Helpline at 404.727.HELP (4357)

“No one, except their advisors, has any idea who these volunteers are,” said Romero Huffstead, CAPS’ suicide prevention coordinator and Helpline advisor, who meets weekly with the group. “They don’t receive any credit or compensation for what they do. They are the true definition of altruism.”

The Emory Helpline was started 40 years ago as the brainchild of Stephen Nowicki Jr., director of clinical training in the psychology department, Susan Brown, academic dean, and Joseph Moon, now dean of Campus Life at Emory’s Oxford College.

“We thought of the Helpline not as the way but as a way to address a need using our own students,” said Moon. “We were not trying to create a program. We were trying to solve a problem. It’s wonderful to know that it’s still thriving and still serving students.”

Last year alone, the Helpline received 166 calls. “When you think about how many lives have been impacted over 40 years, it’s phenomenal,” said Huffstead.

“They are the best-hearted students in the world—the best student organization that I have ever been involved with,” said Mark McLeod, former director of CAPS. “They do this because they feel they can meet a need. They are Emory’s unsung heroes.”

More information
Helpline: 404.727.HELP (4357)