Daily Point of Light 3947, SCS HelpLine Volunteers
The SCS HelpLine Volunteers, are an extraordinary group of volunteers who show daily their commitment to community involvement and to Texas A&M University and their fellow Aggies. They are active members of an invaluable, life-saving program on campus and the selflessness shown by them speaks volumes about their character. In addition to their commitment to academics, they carve time out of their schedules to make themselves available to the entire student body by volunteering their time to answer the university’s HelpLine. As the person who coordinates and supervises this remarkable group, I strongly believe I have one of the most interesting and rewarding positions on staff. The SCS HelpLine Volunteers answer the Student Counseling HelpLine from 4:00 p.m. to 8:00 a.m. weekdays and 24 hours-a-day on weekends. The HelpLine, founded in 1995, is Texas A&M University’s after-hours mental health service and provides, by telephone, peer support, information, crisis assessment and intervention, and referrals to students at Texas A&M University, as well as those concerned about students including faculty, staff, and parents. It is supervised and run by the Student Counseling Service, a department in the Division of Student Affairs at Texas A&M University. The community need that the HelpLine Volunteers address is providing a listening ear to the campus community. Their mission is to provide crisis assessment and intervention over the telephone to students, or those concerned about students, who are experiencing situations that cannot wait until normal business hours. The secondary mission is to provide support, information, and referral of a non-crisis nature. Calls to the HelpLine represent a wide range of needs but cluster around relationship issues, anxiety, academic stress, depression, and suicidal ideation. The biggest impact of the HelpLine is evident in the decrease in student suicide on our campus. Since the inception of HelpLine, the rate was cut in half, and this campus now has one of the lowest student suicide rates in the nation. The impact of the HelpLine is also evident in that it is one of the most widely known services for students on this campus. Every Texas A&M University college student’s identification card has the HelpLine number on it. Faculty, staff, and administrators routinely remind students experiencing difficulty to call the HelpLine if assistance is needed when the Student Counseling Service is not open. The HelpLine Volunteers demonstrate on a daily basis their commitment to serving their fellow students, excellence in service, and a willingness to go above and beyond when there is a need. The dedication of the HelpLine volunteers is exemplified in many ways, but I would like to point to one in particular. In times of tragedy when I have approached the HelpLine volunteer staff to ask them to expand HelpLine coverage beyond our normal hours, I’ve gotten the same response each time - an immediate call to service to provide additional hours to be responsive to their fellow students impacted by the tragedy. I’ve witnessed this firsthand time and time again including in 1999, when this campus was faced with a tragic loss of 13 students and injury to countless others as a result of the collapse of Bonfire. The HelpLine volunteers chose to expand the HelpLine coverage 24 hours every day for approximately two weeks in order to be available to students who needed support.