The main idea behind TEEN LINE, a safe, confidential place to talk things out and connect over the phone, by email or text, is based on the observation that teenagers with problems confide rather to their peers than seek help from an adult. The enormous need for this service is reflected in more than 17,000 annual calls/texts/emails made by teenagers to the hotline, which is staffed by highly trained peers, called listeners – each of which receive over 65 hours of formal training on issues such as abuse, depression, rape, bullying, anxiety/stress, gangs, gender identity, homelessness, pregnancy, relationships, sexuality, violence, substance abuse, self-harm, and suicide.
In addition, TEEN LINE provides an outreach program to local high schools, parents, and the Los Angeles Police Department’s Juvenile Procedures School that reaches more than 44,000 people each year, opening dialogues to reduce stigma and educate the community about issues pertinent to adolescence, including suicide prevention.
The recently established community partnership between TEEN LINE and the Semel Institute at UCLA will provide the crucial connection to academia and the mental health care system to connect to heath care professionals and mental health resources, provide evidence based research and data analysis support, and to make this program sustainable, replicable, and fundable through public funds. With this grant, we will fund a position at TEEN Line that will expand the existing connection to UCLA, build data collection capacity, train UCLA Medical Student during a Summer Research Fellowship, and extend the school outreach program to Los Angeles Middle Schools, because our data has shown that an increasing number of younger teens use the services of TEEN LINE.