During the rainy, third weekend of September, 10 young people came together at the Inspire USA Foundationheadquarters in San Francisco to kick off ReachOut TXT, an exciting new peer-to-peer mobile service offering confidential support and information through the powerful medium of text messages.
The 10 text-savvy teens and young adults who gathered for an intensive three-day training were selected from a pool of Bay Area applicants to become TXT Supporters. Ranging from 17 to 24 years old, each articulated a strong commitment to offering nonjudgmental support and providing positive and unintimidating perspectives on questions and concerns received during the weekly sessions (Mondays 4-8 p.m. PST).
In preparation for the October 7 launch, the TXT Supporters were trained by members of the Inspire staff, including ReachOut Mental Health Advisor Dr. Romi Mann. Over the course of the weekend, Dr. Mann led several in-depth presentations on issues ranging from relationship problems to depression. Between these interactive sessions and exercises designed to help texters foster trust, field difficult questions and adhere to safety protocols, each volunteer learned to provide empathetic responses to a wide array of questions.
As the weekend progressed and the training came to a close, these 10 new Peer TXT Supporters provided critical input on the program, suggesting more youth appropriate methods for supportive responses and asking crucial questions to help improve the service. With October 7 just around the corner, these 10 new TXT Supporters eagerly await their first text, their chance to improve the lives of their peers and champion suicide prevention all through text messaging.
Help make a difference! Spread the word: If you know a young person looking for information, support, or just a good chat with a peer, encourage them to text "REACHOUT" to 877-877 on Mondays between 4-8 p.m. PST.
by Michael Young, Youth Coordinator
What do former NFL player Keith Elias, "High School Musical" star/Gimme Mo CEO Monique Coleman and the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline all have in common? Each of them joined ReachOut along with teens and young adults across the country in rocking the movement for suicide prevention this September by answering the brave question of 'How Do U ReachOut?'On the ground and across social networks like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram with the hashtag #HowDoURO, we were amazed by all the efforts we saw from young people and advocates for youth alike to share their coping strategies for tough times.
Along with powerful images, we were touched by the outpouring of encouraging words. Our call to action inspired moving stories from young people and former NFL running back Keith Elias, honest answers ("I reach out when life's too hard to handle all alone.") and passionate rally cries for others to join the movement ("I reach out by speaking. Break the silence. Break the stigma. #HowDoURO") ReachOut volunteers from our Peer Supporter and Youth Council programs also played a key role in raising awareness for Suicide Prevention Month with outreach events held on campuses and in tandem with wider community movements like the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention's Out of the Darkness Community Walk in San Francisco. Whether expressed in e-cards, Instagram selfies or profile pics, we know the impact of the campaign was far-reaching and look forward to welcoming new members into the ReachOut community and making next year's Suicide Prevention efforts an even more spectacular affair!
by Meredith Sires, Web Editor
Inspire Presents to California State Senate
Last week, Inspire USA had the amazing opportunity to present at the informational hearing for the California State Senate’s Select Committee on Mental Health. Poignantly titled “Every Life Matters: Implementing Effective Suicide Prevention Strategies in California,” the powerful proceedings were hosted by California Senator Jim Beall (D-San Jose). As Director of ReachOut California, I was honored to attend along with Emily O’Brien, our Director of Youth Engagement, and present on our exciting new peer-to-peer text message support program, ReachOut TXT.
Other compelling hearing speakers included suicide survivor and author Kevin Hines along with Kevin Briggs, a Sergeant on the California Highway Patrol with a long history of enforcing suicide prevention efforts on the Golden Gate Bridge. Victor Ojakian, a staunch Suicide Prevention advocate in California, described his efforts to implement suicide prevention protocols in schools, and Michelle Thomas from San Francisco Suicide Prevention presented on the recent launch of their crisis text line, MyLife. The hearing brought texting to the forefront as a critical new programmatic feature for encouraging young people to seek help during tough times. The insightful and empathetic Committee on Mental Health included Senator Mark Leno (D-San Francisco), Senator Ellen Corbett (D-San Leandro) and Assembly member Tom Ammiano. As we spread the word about the launch of ReachOut TXT, we are thankful to the committee for their dedication to the promotion of mental health and to reducing suicide rates in California.
by Nicola Survanshi, Director of ReachOut California
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