LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WLFI) — After starting the SAFE2TALK program back in December, IU Health Arnett and Mental Health America are looking to expand the program to schools in surrounding counties.
The SAFE2TALK program is a crisis hotline that allows students to text for help with mental health issues rather than calling.
The program was rolled out in December 2017 with Tippecanoe School Corporation. Lafayette School Corporation and Central Catholic added the teen texting program this spring. Since December 1, over 384 texts conversations have occurred.
The CEO of Mental Health America Wabash Valley Region, Jennifer Flora, says the program is growing because it is working.
"We do quite often when it's appropriate, ask if we have been of service and that is unanimous across the board, people have valued this," said Flora.
The SAFE2TALK texts are responded to by trained Crisis Intervention Specialists with Mental Health America. MHA Crisis Center staff and volunteers go through an extensive assessment and background check and successfully complete 32 hours of classroom training followed by 20 hours of on-the-job training. SAFE2TALK is certified as a crisis response center by the American Association of Suicidality as part of the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.
“We want to reach as many teens as possible, and let them know that our Crisis Center services are available. Indiana continues to rank as one of the top five states in the percent of teens contemplating, attempting and completing suicide,” stated Jennifer Flora, chief executive officer of Mental Health America – Wabash Valley Region. ”We cannot let this continue. We need to let our teens know that we care about them, we’re here for them, and they can contact our crisis text services 24-7.”
Next fall the program will start in all middle and high schools in Clinton and White counties. Benton Central Schools and Delphi Community School Corporation are also looking into adding the program.