How ‘Niteline’ Are Here To Help Students This Exam Season

Image Credit: Niteline and Sarah McHale via Instagram

With exam season just weeks away, Sports Editor Oisin Gaffey sat down with Niteline’s UCD Public Face, Sarah McHale to discuss the various support services Niteline are offering students.

We are now well into November and exam season is just around the corner. Over the course of the next month, thousands of students will be preparing to sit end-of-semester exams in the RDS, whilst many will also have final essays and assignments to submit. This period is extremely stressful for all students, but that doesn’t mean you have to face these difficulties alone. I sat down with Niteline’s Public Face for UCD, Sarah McHale to discuss the wide range of support services available to students throughout exam season.

Put simply, Niteline is a “student listening and information service.” They are a team of 80 student volunteers, scattered across 10 different Colleges in Ireland. They are open from 9pm until 2:30am and take calls from students “every single night of term.” 

They are open from 9pm until 2:30am and take calls from students ‘every single night of term. 

Sarah highlighted to me the vast range of issues that volunteers are trained to deal with, whether it be as serious as suicidal thoughts, or phoning up to discuss problems at college. Adding to this, she says, “30% of our calls actually come into the category of ‘college’ which shows just how broad the spectrum is”, highlighting the key message that “no problem is too big or too small.” Volunteers at Niteline “will never hang up a call or dismiss a call because we don’t think it’s worth talking about. Every problem is welcome.”

'No problem is too big or too small.'

The four pillars that form the ethos and mission of Niteline are “Anonymity, Confidentiality, Non-Directive and Non-Judgemental.” All callers and volunteers have “complete anonymity”, and whatever is discussed on calls remains confidential and will not be shared. Niteline operates as an information service, and will therefore “not tell you what to do”; rather volunteers are there to be an “open ear” and “simply listen.” 

Anybody is encouraged to call if they are unsure on what they want to do about any issues they may be suffering with. For example, Sarah says that “people can call if they are unsure on whether they want to go to counselling” or “if they need a service that we can’t provide them with, we are happy to have a look to see what we can do, if we can refer them to some place else.” In fact, she states that “we get a lot of calls where we end up making people aware of the counselling services in their area, or else other services in other areas, whether it be with addiction or LGBTQ+ issues”, highlighting that “it’s not always just counselling.”

It is important to note that being a ‘caller’ does not mean you must speak over the phone, as this can be a daunting first step. Niteline operates an “online listening platform” that is a text-based platform, accessible via computer, phone or tablet. 60% of the calls Niteline takes are through this service, which is “the only service that has a message platform open that late.” 

As Public Face for UCD, Sarah runs various stands and workshops throughout the year across campus. Niteline were present at the Freshers Fair back in September, and will be back in early December with a stand outside the James Joyce Library. A final date is yet to be confirmed, but Niteline will have a stand during Study Week before the exams officially begin. At the stand there will be free Red Bull, sweets, stickers, as well as some more Niteline merch. Sarah is also hoping to host an event with UCD’s Psychology Society next semester, as well as various other events throughout the year. 

Niteline will have a stand during Study Week before the exams officially begin. 

For those that might be interested in becoming a volunteer, the best thing to do is to follow Niteline on Social Media, or reach out to Sarah. Sarah has been volunteering since 2020, and says that “It was probably one of the best things I have done in college, if not the best thing.” 

Sarah and the rest of the team at Niteline would like to encourage anybody struggling with their mental health to take the first step and reach out, whether it be through a phone call or through their text-based listening service. No problem is too big or too small.

Phone: 1800 793 793