GAZETTE: Youth Mental Health Campaign Grows: Springs-based confidential text crisis line expands statewide

Posted 11/19/2018

by Debbie Kelley

“My life is full of pressure and expectations. Sometimes emptiness lies just below the surface.”

“Parents care about all the wrong things. Sometimes hurt lies just below the surface.”

“My good grades are never quite good enough. Sometimes anxiety lies just below the surface.”

Posters with these and other messages from a new push to combat teen suicide and help adolescents deal with mental health issues are being displayed in schools across the Pikes Peak region.

“Our intent is to reflect how a kid might be feeling so that when they’re in their own head and worried about how they’re going to get through something, they see a message that seems true and authentic and will take the next step,” said Kirk Woundy, spokesman for the Colorado Springs office of the National Alliance on Mental Illness.

Now, the homegrown campaign is going statewide.

Created last school year by NAMIColorado Springs in response to record-high numbers of teen suicides in El Paso County in 2015 and 2016, the Below the Surface campaign steers kids dealing with bullying, peer pressure, troubled home situations, depression, anxiety, LGBTQ issues and other problems to a free, confidential text crisis line.

Seven days a week, 24 hours a day teens can text TALK to 38255 and connect with a trained professional or peer who has experienced something similar to what the caller is going through. Teens can remain anonymous throughout the conversation.

NAMI-Colorado Springs received a $50,000 grant from the Colorado Springs Health Foundation and raised an additional $25,000 in matching funds to activate the campaign.

Teams of students from different schools helped develop the messaging, which along with posters includes stickers and business-card size messages.

“There were misconceptions, such as there isn’t a real person at the other end, or this isn’t going to help me,” Woundy said.

NAMI-Colorado Springs also did presentations at schools about how the line works and why students might want to use it.


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