IU Health Arnett Hospital

SAFE2TALK teen texting program providing a valuable resource

Community

May 30, 2018

May is Mental Health Awareness month. A case of the “Mondays” can turn into weeks or months of feeling down, discouraged or hopeless. Indiana University Health Arnett along with Mental Health of America – Wabash Valley Region (MHA) want to remind teenagers that help is available.

IU Health Arnett and Mental Health America rolled out the SAFE2TALK teen texting program 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 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. Only the best practices, policies, and procedures are used. The next training session for Crisis Intervention Specialist starts Thursday, June 7.

As a part of the SAFE2TALK initiative, MHA has trained administrators, counselors and teachers in QPR, a suicide prevention program. QPR stands for question persuade and refer. These are three steps anyone can learn to help prevent suicide. Beginning July 1, teachers in the state of Indiana will need to complete two hour suicide prevention training. QPR fulfills that requirement by teaching attendees how to recognize the warning signs and risk factors associated with suicidal thoughts and when to utilize QPR. Just like CPR, QPR is an emergency response to someone in crisis and can save lives. QPR training is recognized by the US Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration as an evidence-based training.

The SAFE2TALK program will be expanding in the fall. Administrators and counselors in Carroll, Clinton and White counties have completed training with plans to roll out the teen texting program in the fall when classes resume.

“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.”

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