Gaggle Speaks

Ideas, News & Advice for K-12 educators and administrators to help create safe learning environments.

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Written by Paget Hetherington
on December 06, 2019

Between academics, extracurricular activities, and social media, today’s teens are under a great deal of pressure that can lead to anxiety and depression. It can be difficult for some teens to discuss these stressors in person, even if they have trusted adults and peers in their lives. Often times, the thought of talking to someone face to face about personal issues can lead to even more anxiety.

In today’s digital world, teens can access the help they need in a way that makes them feel much more comfortable. Created in 1980 by mental health professionals, TEEN LINE is a free, anonymous hotline that’s hosted by teen volunteers who have received specialized training. The service is based on the premise that when a teen has a problem, they often think their parents can’t possibly understand the issue or that their friends might laugh or judge them. This safe, confidential place allows teens to talk out their problems with another teen who will simply listen, which can make a huge difference in the life of an anxious caller.

Along with the hotline, TEEN LINE’s website features message boards and a variety of useful resources for teens in need of support. For those who aren’t comfortable talking on the phone, TEEN LINE also offers texting and email options, as well as their free Teen Talk iPhone app. Certified by the American Association of Suicidology, the hotline receives over 17,000 calls, texts, and emails each year.

By connecting with a fellow teen who is there solely to listen without judgement, teens can get help clarifying their concerns and discover the options available to help them. The Teen Listeners who volunteer at the hotline are able to understand and empathize with callers as peers. Volunteer mental health professionals are also on site to provide supervision and support to the listeners, which can help them both during and after difficult calls. No problem is too small or large for the hotline volunteers, who listen as callers discuss issues ranging from anxiety over schoolwork, fights with friends, and dealing with divorce to substance abuse, self-harm, and suicide.

This nonprofit, community-based organization operates every evening from 6:00pm to 10:00pm PST and is an inclusive approach to adolescent mental health. By combining technology with community outreach, TEEN LINE offers a safe, confidential option to help today’s teens receive the support they need.

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