Story URL: http://news.medill.northwestern.edu/chicago/news.aspx?id=230072
Story Retrieval Date: 4/17/2015 11:15:35 AM CST
Courtesy of Creating Community Solutions
Texting offers new way to get youth engaged in mental health discussions. Creating Community Solutions and Lady Gaga's Born This Way Foundation are sponsoring a texting conversation about mental health. All you need to chime in is a cell phone. The latest digital mental health discussion for and between young people kicks off today.
An emerging mental health “conference” offers a new kind of group rapport: a conversation entirely conducted by texting.
The latest digital mental health discussion for and between young people kicks off today.
“We specifically wanted to do this through a text messaging platform to appeal to youth,” said Raquel Goodrich, the online engagement manager for the National Institute for Civil Discourse. “This could be a really good way to get youth talking about mental health.”
The event is called “Text, Talk, Act to Improve Mental Health.”
To participate, gather three or four friends and text START to 89800. The "conversation" takes about an hour – every time you text in, you get a text back with a different discussion question – and once in a while you'll receive polling questions and a link to a website with the polling results, which also allows you to view all the different responses and ideas that have been texted in.
“There is a major need to get youth talking about mental health,” said Goodrich. “This is something that helps inspire people to talk about mental health.”
Occasionally, people text in who are in crisis. To make sure they get immediate assistance, one of the first texts people receive is the number for the national hotline for mental health crises.
"I think this looks very innovative and has some good resources for reaching young adults, who might not otherwise get this information," said Nancy Molitor, Illinois public education coordinator for the American Psychological Assn. "It's also a very effective and clever way of destigmatizing the issue of mental health treatment."
The first Text, Talk, Act took place in December. About 600 phone lines texted in, with the National Institute for Civil Discourse estimating 2,400 participants. “This time, we anticipate a much larger turnout,” said Goodrich.
Part of the enhanced participation comes from the endorsement and partnership of Lady Gaga's Born This Way Foundation; as well as stipends offered to youth organizers. This time, 26 of them signed up.
The event in principally run by Creating Community Solutions, a partnership between various “deliberative democracy” organizations created as a part of the National Dialogue on Mental Health. The National Dialogue was created by Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and Department of Education Secretary Arne Duncan after President Barack Obama called for a “national conversation to increase understanding about mental health.”
According to CCS, deliberative democracy is “what happens when people are able to engage meaningfully with each other and with government in order to produce better decisions and better solutions to public problems.” Community conversations, whether in person or via text messaging – certainly fit into this definition.
Lady Gaga founded the Born This Way Foundation with her mother, Cynthia Germanotta, in an effort to connect youth with "the safety, skills, and opportunities they need to be their kindest, bravest selves, and to build a kinder, braver world," according to the foundation.
With the foundation's focus on youth, getting involved in a youth mental health discussion is right up their alley.
The Born This Way Foundation is run by both Lady Gaga and Germanotta. At the December 2013 White House conference that led to the development of the National Dialogue on Mental Health, Germanotta met Caroline Lukensmeyer, the executive director of the NICD. While they kept in touch, “it wasn't until we created the TTA that we found a natural partnership,” according to Goodrich.
There is no schedule set for the next TTA.