7 Cups of Tea (also called 7 Cups) is a new mobile app and website that allows college students to get 24/7 emotional support from anywhere in the world. This free app is a peer-to-peer system that matches people who need to talk with caring, trained, non-judgmental listeners. The app overcomes typical mental health barriers by making the service anonymous, convenient and free.
7 Cups of Tea was created by Glen Moriarty, a licensed psychologist who is passionate about the Internet’s power to improve people’s lives. While studying offline human behavior transformed through technology — dating, friendships, shopping — Moriarty recognized the gap between technology and mental health care. He took the opportunity to create a medium to help individuals who simply needed to talk, vent or connect without fear of judgment.
Anonymity allows people to easily ask for help because there is no fear of them being personally identified. With 7 Cups, there is no struggle with insurance and long waitlists. People that need emotional support are just a click away, and within seconds they are chatting with a caring and qualified listener.
Moriarty launched the app in July 2013 through the support of Y Combinator, a prestigious startup accelerator responsible for the success of companies such as Dropbox and Airbnb. Since its launch, 7 Cups of Tea has grown from 50 conversations per week to over 70,000. It has trained listeners in 150 countries, speaking 130 languages.
“The vast majority of users are not struggling with any real significant disorders. They just are going through a hard time. Maybe their kids are overwhelming them or their marriage is not working out right. They might have a lot of questions about things, like ‘Is this normal?’ and feel like that they can’t talk to anyone about it,” Moriarty said. “They just want to share it with someone.”
Users can start with text chats and then switch to voice calls when they feel more comfortable, as well as request specific listeners who have had similar life experiences. 7 Cups recruited many of its current listeners through organizations like the National Alliance on Mental Illness, Active Minds, Narcotics Anonymous and the Down Syndrome Association. Other listeners include military spouses, graduate students in psychology and people with long-term health issues.
Potential listeners must complete an online training program and speak with Moriarty on the phone before they can start attending to people. Moriarty tries to assess people on why they are interested in becoming a listener and he makes sure that they understand the basic concept. Listeners are constantly reminded that when someone is telling them a story, they should try to understand what it would feel like to be that person. At the end, they need to give a warm feeling to users and make them feel that they aren’t alone and instead, make them feel validated.
“We just want to be a place where you can get support,” Moriarty said. “Late at night, when you are all alone and are completely exhausted and just need someone to fill your tank back up, give us a call and we’ll be happy to assist you.”