Students from ten public high schools in New York City are going to be given smartphone access to free and confidential counseling for mental health. NYC Teen Text was developed following a survey in 2013 on Youth Risk Behavior that revealed 27 percent of NYC public high school students feel sad/hopeless every day for two or more weeks. Of this figure, only 18 percent accessed a counselor. The idea behind NYC Teen Text is to close this gap.
It is a great idea given the amount of time teens these days spend on their phones. NYC Teen Text will have approximately 2,000 local providers of counseling services in the database. In addition, for teens that seem like they might harm themselves, counselors can work alongside the local police department to check in on them.
A substantial supporter of the program has been Chirlane McCray, Mayor Bill de Blasio’s wife. Their own daughter has suffered from mental illness. McCray pointed out quite simply that: “our goal is to meet teens where they are – and where they are is on their phones.”
One should realize however that this program should NOT be used in place of traditional one-on-one counseling, as that is very important to be face-to-face with a counselor. But it is a good start, especially for those teenagers reluctant to make an appointment with a counselor.