The support-helpline "Nightline München"
"We listen to everyone"
What exactly is Nightline and who is on the other end of the line when you call?
Jonas Kupfer: Nightline is a telephone-helpline from students for students. But of course we are there for everyone who calls us, whether it's a student or not. Anyone who has something on their mind and wants to talk about it can call us. We are supported by the Studentenwerk – financially and with regard to organizational aspects. The helpline is anonymous, free of charge, and confidential. That's why I want to remain anonymous so that our callers know that everything is protected.
What problems do people call you with?
That is quite different. There are mainly two categories, sometimes also interconnected: one main aspect is relationship problems, be it with a partner or with family and friends. It often happens that students move to Munich and then don't find any friends. The other main problem at hand is pressure to perform.
Does the corona crisis play an important role?
Yes, the coronavirus is currently a problem that keeps many of our callers busy. Also, the issue of pressure to perform is getting worse during the corona crisis. Some feel insecure because they have the feeling of not being able to achieve anything – or because they do not know how their studies will continue, whether the examinations will take place and, if so, when…
What happens when someone dials your number?
Our telephone service is available on two evenings a week. We are trained to listen, which means that we have all received training based on the Carl Rogers Method. At Nightline, calls are handled using this method. The caller is supposed to describe and analyze his or her situation, and we Nightliners are only there to listen. The caller reflects on the situation and develops a solution by himself or herself. We follow strict principles.
Which ones, for example?
Firstly, unconditional appreciation, which means that we meet the callers without prejudice. This works very well because we, as listeners, reflect the reactions and feelings of the callers. Often, it's not about working out a solution. Many callers don't need a specific solution, they simply need an open ear. We don't give advice either. The Rogers Method is based on the notion that the person already has everything inside. By listening, we only help bring it to the surface.
What does one have to do in order to become a Nightliner?
We are currently about 20 active members, and are happy about everyone who wants to join. You can apply for membership – and if you are accepted, you will be trained and can do telephone service. But this is not a must, some of us also do other things to help out with the helpline. We are not alone in our work, but receive support from the therapist Andrea Muth, who volunteered to supervise the Nightliners.
How is the helpline accepted?
It takes a lot of courage to call us. Many people cannot overcome themselves. I have maybe two or three callers per shift. But a call usually takes over an hour, so that you are on the phone all evening. Some call more often, but many only call once, which is of course totally fine.
Do you only handle two-way calls?
Recently, we also tried to establish a group call, because we thought that loneliness plays a major role in times of self-isolation. However, this doesn't seem to be the right setting, so we will return to normal phone calls on Tuesday and Thursday evenings from next month onwards.
(Interview: Sabrina Czechofksy)
Jonas Kupfer (name changed) is 23 years old and a student of Mechanical Engineering at TUM. Since anonymity is the highest principle at Nightline, he will stay anonymous here as well. Kupfer joined the helpline because he had the feeling that his studies were taking up his whole life. He wanted to do something else alongside his studies, and help others. More information: Nightline München