More than 20% of teenagers and young adults suffer some type mental health stress, and as many as 30% of adolescents experience one major episode of depression before reaching adulthood.¹ And while this information is sobering, it is heartening to know that this is also the age at which people are the most receptive to positive influences that can help overcome mental health stress.
Here is a way to be one of those positive influences:
"Text, Talk, Act is an innovative effort that uses smart phones as a way of helping young people to talk about mental health issues" says Theo Brown, Outreach Coordinator for Text, Talk, Act 2016. "Text Talk Act guides you through a healthy and open conversation while also teaching you the skills to address mental health in your daily life. There is a stigma around mental health, especially in youth, and Text Talk Act believes an important first step to removing this stigma is just to talk about it." Says Megan, a youth at UUCA. "When my youth group participated in TTA, my group and I not only discussed our personal experiences with mental health, but laughed, learned, and were able to offer support to each other. Many who suffer from mental illness suffer in silence, and programs like Text Talk Act teach that you’re not alone and it’s okay to reach out for help."
More than 40,000 young people have participated in small group conversations on mental health through the Text, Talk, Act program so far. And this year will be the biggest year yet.https://youtu.be/n17FNL11CVs
It's very easy to get involved and any young person can do it. First, find 2 to 4 friends and 30-60 minutes, you only need one smart phone per group. Then text the word “START” to the number 89800 to get started. You'll receive texts and videos to guide your group through a conversation on mental health. You can participate in the larger discussion happening all over the country by texting responses to questions you receive and sending your own ideas for action. You can see what everyone is talking about by viewing everyone's posts on a live website. At the end of the conversation you'll get links to resources to continue the conversation and get more information.
This is a great initiative for any congregation – even yours! Brown points out that, "Anytime a Unitarian Universalist UU church has a group of young people (secondary school or college aged) meeting together during May they can use this as a program activity. We’ve had a high level of satisfaction from youth groups that have participated in the past and I think UU youth would find it interesting and informative."
To find out how young people at your congregation can be involved check out www.creatingcommunitysolutions.org/texttalkact.