Hey Sam Volunteer Caroline reflects on the stress of starting her first semester at college and what Hey Sam has taught her about finding support from peers.
The summer, plagued by rainstorms and humidity, has finally come to an end as students of all ages return to school. This year, the back-to-school season is particularly stressful for me because I’m starting college. Doubts and fears of academic failure, of an inability to form true friendships, and of feeling out of place and homesick have racked my brain for these past few months as I think about leaving high school and entering college.
Yet, what has brought me the greatest comfort in this time of change is knowing that all first-year students experience these anxieties. Understanding that I’m not alone, through the support of peers and experienced college students, has given me relief. I have felt heard and validated, and that has made a world of difference. I certainly still have some doubts, but I have now focused on the new experiences college will give me: the development of my passion for studying psychology and the opportunity to meet new people.
Understanding that I’m not alone, through the support of peers and experienced college students, has given me relief.
I plan on studying neuroscience on the pre-med track with the hopes of becoming a psychiatrist. My interest in this field stemmed from observing the mental health challenges of people in my own community. Even as a high schooler, I wanted to make a positive change in the mental health field. I found Samaritans and Hey Sam, and through this volunteer experience, have worked over one hundred hours on the Helpline supporting my peers. More recently, I worked within the Hey Sam program as the outreach intern, working to improve promotional efforts of Hey Sam through social media and direct outreach. My time with Hey Sam has been rewarding, both in terms of the professional experience I gained but also in terms of the positive impact it has had on my personal relationships.
The main thing I have taken away from my time with Hey Sam is the importance of peer-to-peer support. My time on the textline and interactions with other students have reaffirmed this perspective. For this reason, I encourage you to remember that although this time of “back to school” is stressful, it is not permanent. Also, remember that these back-to-school anxieties are common. I encourage you to be the peer that someone else needs. Some of the best support we can receive in these times of change is from our own peers.
Caroline was an outreach intern with Hey Sam during the summer of 2023. Hey Sam is a peer-to-peer mental health support texting service for young people. Hey Sam is available 9am to 12am Midnight ET. If you are struggling, feeling overwhelmed, or in need of compassionate support, text Hey Sam at 439-726.