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Princeton Peer Nightline, an anonymous, confidential peer listening service for undergraduate students run by undergraduate students, will launch this weekend. The service will offer students a chance to talk to trained volunteer listeners who are also students, about virtually anything, via phone or online chat on Friday and Saturday evenings.

PPN was spearheaded by Julie Newman ’18, Christin Park ’18, and Shana Salomon ’18, all of whom are board members of the Princeton Mental Health Initiative. The three started working on the program at the beginning of spring semester last year. They said they were inspired by similar programs at other schools as well as, for Newman and Salomon, personal experience volunteering with a crisis and suicide prevention hotline.

Newman said that being involved with the hotline “gave us the idea of how important that was to helping other people and that it would be really great if we had a similar resource on campus.”

The founders of PPN said they hope the program will become an additional resource that students can use, and that the unique aspects of the program will encourage hesitant students to seek help.

Salomon said she thinks one benefit of PPN is that it doesn’t require users to talk to people who are familiar. “Sometimes it’s nice just to talk to someone that you don’t know ... because sometimes when you talk to someone that you know, ... it can be like a burden on the person, and you don’t want to feel that burden that you’re giving them,” she explained.

She added that she thinks it will be helpful for students to be able to talk to peers, rather than counselors, about their problems, since peers will be able to “really get what’s going on on campus.”

Newman, Park, and Salomon all said they were very excited about the launch of the program and seeing it come together after a year of hard work.

“Someone on Mental Health Initiative back in 2014 actually had this idea, so it’s really exciting for both the people on campus and the alumni who were involved as well,” said Park.

For now, the PPN is available from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays, but Salomon said the program would “absolutely” expand if the community reaction warranted widened offerings.

“For now, we’re starting on a smaller scale to see the response of the Princeton community,” Salamon noted.

To celebrate the launch of PPN, the three founders offered handouts and phone wallets and answered questions at a table in Frist Campus Center on Wednesday and Thursday. They will do so again Friday evening.

PPN is sponsored by the Princeton Mental Health Initiative and the Office of the Vice President for Campus Life, and is supported by Counseling and Psychological Services. The program’s website for online chat is princetonpeernightline.com, and the phone numbers are 609-258-0279 and 609-258-0615.

Image design credit: Kathleen Ma for Princeton Mental Health Initiative

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