hEARt: An Empathetic Ear for Students Everywhere

Aria Thakore

BSE ’20


From left: Aria Thakore and partner Aastha Dharia

Early on in our college careers, our team discovered just how many Michigan students struggle to maintain their mental and emotional well-being. We conducted interviews and ran surveys to investigate the extent of the crisis on campus, and found that many students were grappling with stress, overwhelming workloads, anxiety, and depression. When we asked why, students told us that they weren’t aware of many existing campus resources, and those they were aware of were not fully effective in meeting their needs. When we asked where they prefer to turn for help, the overwhelming response was their peers. As one student put it, people are seeking “a listening ear”; someone who will relate and empathize without offering unfounded and possibly insensitive advice. In response to this need, our team designed hEARt: a peer-to-peer chat application. hEARt connects students who want to talk with students who want to listen. Our platform quickly and anonymously matches users with a hEARt Supporter, a student who has been trained through our hEARt Training Program. By arming Supporters with skills and connecting them to students, hEARt aims to make emotional support accessible to students coping with any mental health challenges, ranging from depression to a simple bad day.

Library Mentor:  Alex Deeke