Campaign Encourages National Dialogue on Youth Mental Health with Text-Enabled Events

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Text Talk Act logo

Text, Talk, Act Campaign Hosts Two Nationwide Events, April 14 & May 7, to Promote Teen & Young Adult Awareness of Mental Health Issues

April 1, 2015 – Mental health can be one of the most difficult topics to bring up, but it’s also one of the most important.  Given that one in four Americans struggles with mental health issues, and three-fourths of all such problems arise between the ages of 14 and 24, it’s crucial that young people know they’re not alone, learn to talk openly about mental health and seek help as early as possible.

That’s why Creating Community Solutions, powered by the National Institute for Civil Discourse, Everyday Democracy, the Deliberative Democracy Consortium and a coalition of other advocacy groups, is launching a unique, text-enabled mental health awareness campaign called Text, Talk, Act. The national initiative is designed to reach young people right where they live, through the use of mobile technology and social media, combined with face-to-face conversation and community organizing.  Campaign officials hope that Text, Talk, Act will facilitate conversation, reduce stigma and teach young people how to get and give help, when necessary.

“The right words at the right time can, literally, change a life,” said Raquel Goodrich, Director of Digital Communications, National Institute for Civil Discourse.  “That’s why we want to empower teens and young adults to step up, contribute to the conversation and, ultimately, help formulate community solutions to issues of mental health diagnosis and treatment.”

Text, Talk, Act will host two nationwide events: one on Tuesday, April 14, in partnership with Active Minds Stress Less Week; and one on Thursday, May 7, in collaboration with SAMHSA’s National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day. The events will use text messaging to help participants have candid discussions on mental health.  (People who don’t have a group with them on April 14 or May 7 but want to participate can join the discussion on Twitter using #TextTalkAct.)

Here’s how it works: Participants gather at any time, on either day, in small groups (3-4 people) with one cell phone per group.  They text the word “START” to the number 89800* and receive a series of text messages that guide the group through a 45 minute conversation on mental health. The campaign’s text messages provide prompts about topics such as why talking about mental health is important and how to help a friend in need. The messages include videos, social media interactions, and a series of questions, some of which invite participants to text in ideas on how individuals and communities can improve mental health. Participants’ submitted ideas are visible in real time to all other participants around the country.  As the conversation comes to a close, participants receive links to resources to continue the conversation and/or seek help.

Teens and young adults or anyone who lives or works with young people—parents, teachers, coaches, community, church leaders, and others—are encouraged to participate in a Text, Talk, Act event. The anonymous data collected from participant responses during the event can be made available to schools and communities.  What’s more, Text, Talk, Act will synthesize and leverage participants’ input in order to inform the media and policymakers about the aspirations and needs of young people regarding mental health.  Participating in the campaign presents an opportunity for young people to have their voices heard and, hopefully, influence how decision-makers think about the policies and programs they are recommending.

Organizers of Text, Talk, Act events can win $1,000 prizes for their schools or community organizations. The campaign provides all of the materials needed to organize an event.

Previous participants have found Text, Talk, Act to be convenient, flexible and easy-to-follow and have indicated that the conversations it inspired were quite meaningful.  What’s more, over 90 percent of respondents to follow-up surveys reported an increase in understanding of mental health issues, and over 65 percent reported that they were more comfortable talking about mental health.

Text, Talk, Act has given me the tools to talk about mental health,” said Krystal Roach, college student. “In the past, when the subject has come up or situations have arisen, I’ve never really known how to address it.  But the campaign’s texts walked us through a variety of scenarios, and I feel like I’m now much more prepared to step up if I notice a friend or family member who’s struggling with sadness, depression, loneliness, or other such issues.”

The Text, Talk, Act campaign was created as part of a response to President Obama’s call for a National Dialogue on Mental Health, following the tragic shooting at Sandy Hook school in which 26 people were killed, including 20 children. It’s been working ever since to foster and nurture respectful community discussion and debate.

For more information on Text, Talk, Act and how to start the change in your school or community, visit http://creatingcommunitysolutions.org/texttalkact.

Official partners of Text, Talk, Act include: Active Minds, National Association of School Psychologists, American School Counselor Association, School Social Work Association of America, Entertainment Industry Council, Populove and the American Association of Suicidology. Promotional partners of Text, Talk, Act are Youth M.O.V.E. National, the Jed Foundation, Mental Health America, American Indian College Fund, Public Conversations Project, Crisis Response Network, National Campus Leadership Council, La Frontera Arizona and Crisis Text Line.

*For participants from Canada or whose phones can’t use short codes, use 7785881995

 

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