By Karen Berkowitz
In the few months since a Text-a-Tip service was launched in the Highland Park and Deerfield communities, teenagers have been reaching out for professional advice when feeling depressed, isolated or conflicted about how to deal with issues involving a friend, organizers say.About 150 text messages in search of help have come in since the service launched March 2, according to Andy Duran, executive director of LEAD, or Linking Efforts Against Drugs.
Americans prefer texting to talking, report says "I think the volume has indicated there is a real need," said Duran. "Any time you can reduce the barrier for a student accessing the help he or she needs, it is a healthy thing. Even if it is a minor issue, minor issues can become major issues in a hurry. It is a difficult time to grow up."
The nonprofit LEAD has a three-year contract to provide the Text-a-Tip service with funding from the Jordan Michael Filler Foundation and government partners, which include Township High School District 113, North Shore District 112 and Deerfield District 109.
The foundation was established by the Highland Park family of Jordan Michael Filler in early 2014 after he died of a heroin overdose at the age of 23.
The system routes messages through a cloaking server, so the source of the texts is untraceable. A teen reporting concerns about a friend need not worry their identity will be disclosed.
Even if it is a minor issue, minor issues can become major issues in a hurry. It is a difficult time to grow up. - Andy Duran, executive director of Linking Efforts Against Drugs The responding counselors are licensed and certified mental health professionals from The Child, Adolescent and Family Recovery Center in Lake Bluff. They conduct the entire conversation by text, unless the student seeking help agrees to provide a voice number, or chooses to call the clinician.
"It only becomes a voice line conversation if the student or the client who texted in request that they want to talk to somebody," said Duran. "Sometimes it gets to a point where the text conversation can only go so far. There are times when the student requests that it move to a different medium. Or the counselor might suggest, 'Would you be comfortable giving me a call, or would you give me your number so I can contact you?' That has happened in quite a few instances."
Read the entire article at the Chicago Tribune