Feb. 4, 2015
By Vesna Brajkovic
7 Cups of Tea is a website and free mobile app that offers people a way to anonymously chat one-on-one about their problems with a trained active listener.
The online emotional support service does not aim to give advice, but rather provide an outlet for people to come and vent to someone invested in listening. Users have the option of choosing a random listener, or one they hand picked based on the life experiences the listener has chosen to share on their profile.
Since its launch in June 2013, 7 Cups of Tea has gone from 50 conversations a week to over 85,000, according to founder and CEO Glen Moriarty.
Moriarty compared the site to an emotional gas station where venting problems to an active listener is like filling your energy tank back up.
“If you think about college life there are a lot of stressors, and all those stressors drain your tank a little bit, so 7 Cups is a way to get filled back up,” Moriarty said.
Listeners are required to complete an online course that is intended to develop active listening skills. The course was created by Moriarty, a psychologist, and it pulls from a variety of sources.
“The whole idea of a listener is to be there for someone if they don’t have a friend or family member they can go to,” 7 Cups of Tea listener and Campus Leader freshman Nick Pupp said. “Some people don’t have a support system, and that’s what 7 Cups of Tea is for, is for someone to come and vent or release some tension from the day. The whole point is to actively listen and emphasize with the user.”
Although active listening can be beneficial to students, it does not replace therapy or counseling services.
7 Cups of Tea serves as a supplement or in conjunction with a counseling center to reach the students who “unfortunately” do not take advantage of the services whether it be because of the negative stigma or inconvenience, said Moriarty.
Free counseling services are provided to all UW-Whitewater students through the University Health and Counseling Services, which Moriarty said was phenomenal” and “fantastic.”
55 percent of people said they would seek treatment for a mental health condition if there were no financial burden, according to a 2014 study done by The Field Institute.
7 Cups of Tea currently has 70,000 listeners from 150 countries providing support in a 130 languages.
“We don’t realize it per say, but it’s obvious that there are a lot of people that need help, but it’s not immediately obvious that there’s people that also want to give help,” Moriarty said. “But there are. The Internet just really provides a fantastic way to connect people that need support, with people who want to provide support. It’s anonymous, it’s not in-person, it’s super convenient and it’s easy.”
Pupp, a recent but active member, is one of those people that wants to provide that help.
“The goal is to make someone smile everyday,” he said. “There’s really not a reward in the end, it’s just volunteering your time to make someone else’s life happy.”
Listeners are rated out of five stars for an overall rating based on the following categories: helpfulness, professionalism, empathy and response time.
Seventeen people across the country are part of 7 Cups of Tea’s Campus Leaders program, which was launched three weeks ago, according to 7 Cups of Tea Director of Operations, Dr. Twisha Anand.
“The Campus Leaders are pioneers of 7 Cups on their respective school/college campuses,” Anand said from India in an email to the Royal Purple. “They are driven towards bringing emotional support to every student on campus.”
For more information visit 7cupsoftea.com.