A support app for teens

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By Cassandra West

Earlier this month, local mental health agencies in partnership with all three school districts (D90, D97 and D200) introduced a mental health-related resource for students called Support4U. It allows students to text licensed mental health clinicians any time of the day for assistance or guidance. 

Support4U is one of the first initiatives of the Suicide Prevention Task Force made up of local police departments, the Community Mental Health Board of Oak Park Township, Thrive and Riveredge Hospital, which are all looking at ways to provide mental health education and awareness, said Kimberly Knake, executive director of NAMI.

"It's the only crisis text program answered by master level clinicians," Knake said.

While students can initiate a text conversation on any issue, some of the matters that students might wish to address could include anxiety, depression, substance use, suicidal ideation, eating disorders, bullying, abuse or any other mental health-related topic.

The resource is anonymous to allay concerns about identity that might keep a student from reaching out. 

The program will be rolled out with greater fanfare in the fall, but administrators wanted to ensure that students would have supports available to them when they do not have ready access to school social workers and staff over the summer months.

SAY Connects is sponsored by the Good Heart Work Smart Foundation in partnership with Success for All Youth (SAY). 

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