When Heidi Allstop was a junior at the University of Wisconsin, she found herself struggling with the stress of college life. So Allstop called the university’s counseling center, only to be told there was a two-week wait for an appointment. “I thought, I just want to talk to peers, people who get it, who aren’t gonna sugarcoat their advice, they’re just gonna understand me and hear me out and tell me what they think I should do,” she remembers, and sitting outside the library, watching her fellow students walk by—heads down, earbuds in—she was struck with an epiphany: “So many of these people are going through the same thing as I am, but we have no way to connect,” she says. “What if there was a place online?”
Spill, her anonymous peer-support network, was born in that moment. Users “spill” their problem at StudentSpill.com; their message is screened by a team trained in crisis prevention, then sent to student responders who post a reply (also screened) within 24 hours.