Can this successful program provide a model for similar ones across the country?

LEAD is not a new organization, in fact it’s been around a few decades. But they established the program in response to a string of three teen suicides in the Lake Bluff/Lake Forest area in a period of less than two weeks back in 2012, said Duran.

“We sat students down and asked, ‘what is it you’re not getting?’” Duran said during a presentation about the program’s expansion. He said the answer the group got from the students was an anonymous system to allow teens and young people to discuss serious problems by text without fear of repercussions or judgement.

 

Over this past summer, the program expanded into McHenry County. Now, with the assistance of local groups including the Lake County Opioid Initiative, it’s available to youth across Lake County as well.

“This will, without a doubt, save lives,” Lake County State’s Attorney Michael Nerheim said about the program. Nerheim is the co-founder of the Lake County Opioid Initiative.

Duran points out that one of the most important features of the program is that all those who answer the text messages are state-licensed mental health professionals. All staff respond to the text messages within a matter of minutes. There is only a staff of 12 people to respond to texts though, with four on call at all times. In cases involving a life-threatening condition or criminal activity, emergency responders are notified.

The program in Illinois is showing a lot of success so far. Approximately ⅓ of teens who text the program involve substance abuse, but other leading topics include depression, anxiety and bullying.

Sometimes it can be tough for parents to pick up on everything that their teen is going through. This anonymous helpline provides a safe space for teens to communicate with trained professionals to get the help that they need. While this line can be successful in crisis situations, parents of troubled teens may want to consider more lasting treatment and therapy. Residential treatment centers use trained professionals to address many of the problems that can lead to critical situations.

Content for this article was provided by the Chicago Tribunehttp://goo.gl/3JxCfU

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