Introduction to Text, Talk, Act
Let’s explores the process of the Text, Talk, Act teen mental health awareness program offered by Creating Community Solutions.
Mental health is a critical aspect of young people’s well-being. Since over half of mental health problems generally surface between the ages of 14 and 24, it is important to bring young people into conversations about mental health. Text, Talk, Act, an initiative of Creating Community Solutions as part of the National Dialogue on Mental Health, is designed to do just that.
The Talk, Text, Act process is intended to get high school-aged youth talking about mental health, resilience, resources, getting help and reducing the isolation and hopelessness people with mental illness often face. Text, Talk, Act allows young people across the county to have conversations on mental health and teaches them how to help a friend if needed. Through text messaging, small groups receive discussion questions to lead them through a conversation about mental health. Teachers, social workers, counselors, therapists, coaches, club leaders, mentors and other professionals who work with teens can host a Text, Talk, Act session at their school, community center, local library or other location where teens gather.
Here’s what the process of offering a Text, Talk, Act gathering involves:
- Review the “Text, Talk, Act Teacher Guide,” which provides detailed information about the process and the role of the conversation facilitator.
- Identify the group of youth to invite to the conversation; these must be high school-aged youth. Adapt and distribute a parent/guardian letter.
- Use the teacher guide to facilitate the one-hour process, which includes the following:
- Adult introduces Text, Talk, Act, helps the group establish a shared definition of “mental health” and presents some basic information about mental health and mental illness.
- Adult helps youth gather in groups of three to four with one cell phone per group, and provides instructions for using Text, Talk, Act.
- Each group texts “START” to 89800 and follows the prompts for their conversation. The text messages include videos, social media interactions, polling questions and discussion questions. (All of these are described in detail in the teacher guide.)
- During the conversations, teens identify resources they or others have found helpful. The text messages also link groups to many additional resources.
- Adult leads a closing activity debriefing Text, Talk, Act.
- “Text, Talk, Act Privacy and Data Usage” indicates you can request a report about the responses received for your group.
Text, Talk, Act is a successful program option developed to expose teens to conversations to increase knowledge and resources for mental health. For more information about Text, Talk, Act, please visit the Text, Talk, Act website. For information on how Michigan State University Extension and Michigan 4-H is getting involved, see “Text, Talk, Act partners with National 4-H.”