Weekly doses of Tea and Talk helps students keep calm and carry on.
The Montclair State University Health Promotion Drop-In Center hosts a weekly Tea and Talk workshop where any Montclair State student can stop by, have a cup of tea and chat with peer advocates and other students. Every Tuesday at 11 a.m. and Thursday at 1 p.m., students get together at the Drop-In Center to talk over a cup of tea.
Tea and Talk is meant to relieve stress for those students who might forget to take a breath amidst the college chaos. Students can stay and interact with others, or grab a cup of tea to go if their schedule demands it. Discussions are open to all students and any topics of conversation.
“The Tea and Talk workshop is a small, simple idea that has a large impact on the campus community,” said Rebecca Lindner, peer advocate at Health Promotion.
Tea and Talk workshops are led by fellow MSU students that act as Health Promotion peer advocates on campus. Peer advocates are volunteers who answer questions and promote the Drop-In Center’s mission statement, which states: “To provide students with the knowledge, tools and resources to make informed decisions about their health.” Peer Advocates volunteer at least four hours a week. They run workshops like Tea and Talk give out safer sex supplies at the Drop-In Center and create programs to educate fellow students.
Lindner, who has led Tea and Talk sessions for over a year, emphasized the importance of slowing down during the semester. She described Tea and Talk as a “neutral environment.” Lindner added that she sees some of the same faces week after week as students recognize the benefits of stopping by. A soothing cup of tea, good conversation and new friends; what else could a college student need to unwind from a stress-filled week?
“Some students who come in also have never tried tea before, so it’s exciting to see them try new things and enjoy something that benefits their physical and mental health,” Lindner said.
The Drop-In Center offers many services in addition to the Tea and Talk workshop. Peer advocates like Lindner offer quick five or ten minute one-on-one meetings to students who are having a bad day or a more serious issue. The peer advocates are trained to listen and refer students to the proper resource for their situation, although they are not counselors or trained professionals. The Drop-In Center focuses its resources more on health promotion and peer advising than serious counseling. Workshops like Tea and Talk are intended to provide students a safe haven, where they can ask questions, make friends, vent and find out more about different places on campus.
“The peer advocate program is a great way to get involved on campus,” said Lindner. So whether MSU students come for the health benefits, the new friends or the free goodies, they’ll get exactly what they need at MSU’s Drop-In Center.