Nonprofit Spotlight: Teen Line

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In July, PennyLoafer donors collectively gave to Teen Line!

The Rundown

  • Years founded: 1980

  • Leadership: After working with teens, Dr. Elaine Leader and Dr. Terry Lipton saw a need for more inclusive adolescent mental health and founded Teen Line. Dr. Leader has won numerous awards for her work in mental health, including the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention Award in 2000.

  • Issue they address: teen mental health and suicide.

  • What they do: provide teenagers across the country with an anonymous, non-judgmental space to talk about their problems with highly trained teens, who are supervised by adult mental health professionals.

  • How they do it:

    • A peer-to-peer hotline: teens can call, text or email to speak with a peer.

    • Volunteer training: The teen “listeners” on the line are LA high school students who complete 65 hours of training on topics like active listening and empathy.

    • Education: provide resources and information to caregivers, schools and other youth organizations about teen mental health.

Why they were chosen

Teen Line was founded by mental health professionals over 35 years ago, based on research that when teens are struggling, they’re more likely to reach out to a peer. Tens of thousands of teens call and text the hotline each year with issues ranging from a fight with a friend to thoughts of suicide. The unique hotline is a safe, anonymous space where teens can open up, speak freely to peers, and get connected to resources.

  • 70% of calls come from outside of CA (across the country), and 80% are 14-19 years old.
  • Teen “listeners” get exposure to mental health professions and career training. Their new program recruits more Latinx teens to be “listeners”, to help serve a more diverse teen population and provide a pipeline to mental health careers.

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👪 Are the kids alright?

1 in 5 teens struggle with their mental health, and issues with anxiety, depression and suicide have been on the rise for the past decade (prior to the pandemic!).

  • In 2019, one in three high school students reported persistent feelings of sadness or hopelessness —an overall increase of 40% from 2009.
  • And suicide is the 2nd leading cause of death among 10-24 year olds.

🤔 So what’s causing this mental health crisis?

It’s likely not one thing, but a combination of many.

This Atlantic article suggests several factors at play, including social media use, a decline in real-world social interactions, a feeling the world is more stressful, and parenting strategies.

Just like there is no one cause, there is no one solution. We’re going to need a lot of different strategies to address teen mental health, and supporting Teen Line’s unique peer-to-peer model is one way to help teens cope!

☎️ Have you heard about the new 988 number?

As of July, the new, shorter number is live nationwide and will route callers to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. It’s a little easier to remember than the previous Lifeline number…1-800-273-8255 🙂

People can call, text or chat the 988 number 24/7 to be connected to trained counselors for support and additional resources. The hope is that this will also decrease the number of people who call 911 during a mental health crisis.

If you enjoyed this and want to get involved, you can support the Mental Health cause on PennyLoafer, starting with as little as $5/month. Each month, you’ll support and learn about a different nonprofit working to make the world a healthier place.