Mission Focus

Teen Line: Helping Teens in Crisis

| Updated July 13, 2018

Teen hotline is available for calls, text messages and emails for teens in crisis.

Founded in 1980, Teen Line is a nonprofit, community-based organization dedicated to providing personal teen-to-teen support and understanding before problems turn into crisis. Teen Line has the unique ability to reach young people because we are a youth-centered-program — for teens, by teens. The main components of Teen Line are: hotline services, training and community outreach.

The mission

The Teen Line peer-to-peer hotline receives thousands of calls, texts and emails often from teens in need of immediate support. A significant number of our contacts focused on life-threatening mental health concerns, for which Teen Line might be their only resource. We feel it is our duty to help provide emotional support for youth through our outreach program. Starting the conversation early with youth can have a ripple effect in families and communities on reducing stigma regarding mental health, promotion early detection and help seeking before issues get to a crisis point.

Volunteers

Over one-hundred teens ages 14-18 years old, coming from schools all over Los Angeles and from a multitude of diverse backgrounds, volunteer annually at Teen Line. Teen volunteers undergo rigorous training, adhere to strict requirements and sacrifice social lives to be a part of Teen Line. They complete a comprehensive 65-hour training program that focuses on difficult teen issues such as bullying, self-harm, relationships, rape, substance abuse and suicide. Teen Line is based in Los Angeles, but helps teens from across the globe.


Hotline operations

Every night from 6 p.m.—10 p.m., at the Teen Line office in Los Angeles, a group of dedicated teens participates in one of the most unique and life-changing volunteer programs available by helping peers through our hotline. Teen Line’s hotline received nearly 17,200 calls, text messages and emails in 2016, a 22 percent increase in teen contact as compared to the prior year.

A significant number of our contacts focused on life-threatening mental health concerns:

  • 59 percent were related to interpersonal relationships;
  • 22 percent reported anxiety and stress;
  • 19 percent reported depression;
  • 16 percent called because either they or someone they know is suicidal;
  • 10 percent self-injury;
  • 8 percent school;
  • 8 percent loneliness;
  • 5 percent LGBTQ;
  • 86 percent said the call was helpful and 95 percent would tell a friend about Teen Line.

Resource associates

Volunteer mental health professionals, known as Resource Associates (RAs), provide on-site supervision and support to the teen listeners. The Resource Associates gain invaluable experience working with teenagers that will benefit them in their careers and personal lives. More than half of the RA’s are female.

Outreach program

Our Teen Line Community Outreach Program is an essential component of our organization providing presentation to tens of thousands of teens, educators and organizations each year in Southern California. It aims to reduce stigma, increase knowledge and promote health-seeking by fostering an open dialogue about teen issues. Our Outreach Coordinator provides an interactive, educational presentation, which covers topics from self-harm and anxiety to substance abuse and healthy relationships.

Training

Since 1996, Teen Line has provided Teen Suicide Prevention Training to the Los Angeles Police Department Juvenile Procedure Training School. We also offer our expertise to educators, therapists and organizations with a Professional Training curriculum that includes “Suicide Prevention” and “Resilience”.

Parent education program

The Teen Line Parent Education Program helps parents better understand teen behavior, improve communication with their teen, and recognize the warning signs and risk factors for depression and suicide. We hold two workshops per month at a community organization or middle/high school in the greater Los Angeles area.

Website resources

In 2016, Teen Line created a dedicated parent website geared to provide education, information, resources and support, as well as a weekly blog on current topics of interest. For schools or parents outside of our service area, this website helps to create a network of care. Research shows that parental involvement can play a role in reducing suicide risk and that family should be an important component of any prevention program.

Educational content and connections

We publish our own educational materials and maintain a database of nearly 500 agencies and programs providing services for young people. These resources are published in our Youth Yellow Pages directory which is also a downloadable app. Our website continues to be a critical source of education and support for the 3 million people worldwide who visit our site annually.

Most widely visited are our Message Boards, a supportive community of over 32,000 registered teens talking about topics that range from health and fitness to self-harm.

Teen Talk app

To expand our reach to provide support for more teens, Teen Line will be launching the “Teen Talk” app early next year. This chat app was developed as a means in which to provide more daily ongoing support to teens for their everyday stresses, such as anxiety about school or difficult relationships. While we are prevention focused, Teen Line saw an opportunity to provide peer support farther upstream, to prevent unhealthy coping practices and mental health crises.


Why teens need Teen Line

There is a proven need for high-quality services that help teens address the challenges they face including relationships, stress/anxiety, depression, dating violence, bullying and sexual identity. Teen line provides support, intervention and information that helps teens to turn away from negative coping strategies such as substance abuse and suicide.

Teen Line’s hotline accepts calls, text messages and emails from any teen who needs and empathetic and non-judgemental arena where they can talk about their problems with another teen. The simple act of listening can make a huge difference --sometimes a life-saving one.

The number of youth under 21 years old that were presented to an ER for mental health crisis has risen 50 percent from 2007 to 2012. One of the reasons is attributed to youth not receiving adequate support services before they spiral into crisis.

Thus, the need for Teen Line as a no-cost preventive resource is critical; especially in diverse, low-income communities, where resources are limited and stigma is most prevalent. Teen Line is committed to providing support and resources to teens, our school and communities.

For more information about Teen Line and their efforts, visit them here: teenlineonline.org

MissionBox editorial content is offered as guidance only, and is not meant, nor should it be construed as, a replacement for certified, professional expertise.

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