Students who are constantly distracted by gaming and social media apps while balancing classes, work, clubs and relationships can now use an app that will help manage the stress accompanied by that balancing act.
7 Cups of Tea is an app and a free online community to promote emotional well-being and provide for people around the world.
Glen Moriarty, a psychologist with a love for technology and his wife Nicole, a therapist, established 7 Cups of Tea. The community allows people to talk anonymously to a listener trained in Moriarty's listener training program about any circumstances with which they may be struggling.
However, 7 Cups of Tea is not a service for those who may be having suicidal thoughts. It is a service that allows people to talk openly about whatever they are facing.
“People need to feel heard and understood, it's a human impulse,” Moriarty said. “No matter where you are, no matter what your background, you can hop online or the app and chat with a caring and compassionate listener.”
7 Cups of Tea’s website launched in 2013 and since then, they have created a mobile app for Apple and Android devices. At the beginning, 7 Cups of Tea was constructing 50 conversations a week and now they are having 90,000 conversations a week.
The Moriartys didn’t design 7 Cups of Tea with an age group in mind, but more than 85 percent of their users are classified as young adults, Moriarty said.
Tiffany Iskander is a staff psychologist for the Student Counseling Service at Iowa State, which officers free counseling to ISU students. Iskander said that some of the most common struggles for students are the transition to college, depression and anxiety.
“The peak times of service for the Student Counseling Service are usually around the beginning of the school year and around finals,” Iskander said.
The Student Counseling Service is open Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., but 7 Cups of Tea is available at any time for students, especially during the hours that the Student Counseling Service is not open.
Anna Hirsch, senior at University of Wisconsin Oshkosh in biological science, is a listener and an ambassador for 7 Cups of Tea. Hirsch found the website following the murder of one of her friends as she was looking for ways to get involved with a crisis line and assist others. Since joining, she has completed more than 500 conversations with users.
“Having something like [7 Cups of Tea] would have been very helpful for me,” Hirsch said. “I wanted to turn around and give back.”
To become a listener, you must be at least 16 years old. Listeners are required to complete an hour-long video and text-based training course. After their course, they are given a practice conversation with a computerized robot that provides training on how to talk to those suffering from depression.
They are given feedback and if they pass, they become a listener. Once they become a listener, they have the opportunity to move through a variety of other training videos.
Even though the Moriartys are providing more support through 7 Cups of Tea by holding 90,000 conversations with users a week, they aren’t done yet. Moriarty said that they are striving for something even bigger.
“90,000 sounds like a really big number. I would have never thought that we would have gotten to 90,000 [conversations],” Glenn Moriarty said. “[Our goal is to have] 100 million positive and supportive conversations.”
The Moriartys are working to cultivate an environment that makes people feel safe and not intimidated, he said.
“A struggle or a challenge you are facing is just one small part of you,” Moriarty said. “Going to therapy can be intimidating. [7 Cups of Tea] is just like text messaging, it’s so easy to get support.”