Unmasked moderators create a safe and supportive environment on the app


Photo by Emily Thomas

Unmasked moderators are tasked with maintaining the app as a supportive and safe space.

Unmasked offers students a space to openly and anonymously share about mental health without fear of judgment. While most student users log on only to scroll, post or respond to comments, a team of peer moderators are responsible for maintaining the safety of the space and intervening with resources and support. 

“The goal is to make sure that it remains an online space that is safe and supportive, and encouraging and authentic as well,” said Irene Kraegel, director of the Center for Counseling and Wellness. To achieve this goal of giving students an uncensored place to anonymously share about mental health struggles, there must be standards in place to help keep the app hospitable for all students. It’s the student moderator’s job to manage the balance between openness and safety.

The app is completely student-run. A team of eight student moderators, led by junior Abigail Verhoeven, take day-long shifts monitoring activity on the app.  

According to Verhoeven, who majors in biology with a minor in psychology, each moderator receives extensive training that includes an introduction to resources that are available to students and guidance on how to respond to red flags on the app before their first shift. 

Student moderators must be prepared to respond to a variety of content, including posts that may be triggering and posts that signal a student may be in danger, Verhoven said.

Peer moderator Ellie Scheeres told Chimes that monitoring and tagging triggering posts is a big part of her role. When someone makes a post and tags it with a trigger warning, moderators are notified, but moderators are also able to add trigger warnings to existing posts. The warnings appear to other users on the app and allow them to choose whether or not to view the full text of the post.

“We actually have trigger warnings that they can add to the post itself, so it hides the message initially, you have to click yes, I want to see what they are saying … if someone posted something that could be triggering and they did not add a trigger warning in the Moderator account, I would go in and put trigger warnings on them,” said Scheeres. 

Moderators offer one-on-one support to peers who express distress on the app. Scheeres told Chimes that if she sees a post that is concerning she will reach out to the person who made the post through direct messages to make sure they are safe. 

Unmasked’s peer moderators are also responsible for advertising the app and managing Unmasked on Calvin’s social media presence.

Because the app is student-run, Kraegel said that it stays relevant, and the students’ support for each other makes for a more positive space.

“We really love the role of students here at Calvin and moderating the app, because that really adds a whole layer of relevance,” said Kraegel.