Campaign Encourages National Dialogue on Youth Mental Health with Text-Enabled Events
April 1, 2015
– Mental health can be one of the most difficult topics to bring up, but it’s
also one of the most important. Given
that one in four Americans struggles with mental health issues, and
three-fourths of all such problems arise between the ages of 14 and 24, it’s
crucial that young people know they’re not alone, learn to talk openly about
mental health and seek help as early as possible.
why Creating Community
Solutions, powered by the National Institute for Civil Discourse, Everyday
Democracy, the Deliberative Democracy Consortium and a coalition of other
advocacy groups, is launching a unique, text-enabled mental health awareness
campaign called Text, Talk, Act.
The national initiative is designed to reach young people right where they
live, through the use of mobile technology and social media, combined with
face-to-face conversation and community organizing. Campaign officials hope that Text, Talk, Act will facilitate
conversation, reduce stigma and teach young people how to get and give help,
right words at the right time can, literally, change a life,” said Raquel
Goodrich, Director of Digital Communications, National Institute for Civil
Discourse. “That’s why we want to
empower teens and young adults to step up, contribute to the conversation and,
ultimately, help formulate community solutions to issues of mental health
diagnosis and treatment.”
Text, Talk, Act
will host two nationwide events: one on Tuesday, April 14, in partnership with
Active Minds Stress Less Week; and one on Thursday, May 7, in collaboration
with SAMHSA’s National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day. The events will use text messaging to help participants
have candid discussions on mental health. (People who don’t have a group with them on April
14 or May 7 but want to participate can join the discussion on Twitter using
Here’s how it works: Participants
gather at any time, on either day, in small groups (3-4 people) with one cell
phone per group. They text the word “START”
to the number 89800* and receive a series of text messages that guide the group
through a 45-minute conversation on mental health.
The campaign’s text messages provide
prompts about topics such as why talking about mental health is important and
how to help a friend in need. The messages include videos, social media
interactions, and a series of questions, some of which invite participants to
text in ideas on how individuals and communities can improve mental health. Participants' submitted ideas are visible
in real time to all other participants around the country. As the
conversation comes to a close, participants receive links to resources to continue
the conversation and/or seek help.
Teens and young adults or anyone who lives or
works with young people—parents, teachers, coaches, community, church leaders,
and others—are encouraged to participate in a Text, Talk, Act event. The anonymous data
collected from participant responses during the event can be made available to
schools and communities. What’s more, Text, Talk, Act will synthesize and
leverage participants’ input in order to inform the media and policymakers
about the aspirations and needs of young people regarding mental health.
Participating in the campaign presents an opportunity for young people to have
their voices heard and, hopefully, influence how decision-makers think about
the policies and programs they are recommending.
of Text, Talk, Act events can win
$1,000 prizes for their schools or community organizations. The campaign
provides all of the materials needed to organize an event.
participants have found Text, Talk, Act
to be convenient, flexible and easy-to-follow and have indicated that the conversations
it inspired were quite meaningful. What’s
more, over 90 percent of
respondents to follow-up surveys reported an increase in understanding of
mental health issues, and over 65 percent reported that they were more
comfortable talking about mental health.
“Text, Talk, Act has given me the tools
to talk about mental health,” said Krystal Roach, a student at Coppin State University in Baltimore.
“In the past, when the subject has come up or situations have arisen, I’ve never
really known how to address it. But the campaign’s
texts walked us through a variety of scenarios, and I feel like I’m now much more
prepared to step up if I notice a friend or family member who’s struggling with
sadness, depression, loneliness, or other such issues.”
Text, Talk, Act campaign was created as
part of a response to President Obama’s call for a National Dialogue on Mental
Health, following the tragic shooting at Sandy Hook school in which 26 people
were killed, including 20 children. It’s been working ever since to foster and
nurture respectful community discussion and debate.
more information on Text, Talk, Act
and how to start the change in your school or community, visit http://creatingcommunitysolutions.org/texttalkact.
partners of Text, Talk, Act include: Active Minds, National Association of
School Psychologists, American School Counselor Association, School Social Work
Association of America, Entertainment Industry Council, Populove and the
American Association of Suicidology. Promotional partners of Text, Talk, Act
are Youth M.O.V.E. National, the Jed Foundation, Mental Health America, American
Indian College Fund, Public Conversations Project, Crisis Response Network,
National Campus Leadership Council, La Frontera Arizona and Crisis Text Line.
*For participants from Canada or whose phones
can’t use short codes, use 7785881995
Media Group, LLC