What's Up Safehouse
Texting is how teens keep in touch with friends and family; now, it is being offered as a way for them to get help when they are feeling depressed, suicidal, or maybe they are worried about a friend.
The SafeHouse Mobile Application will be a comprehensive tool for youth and young adults within Riverside County.
The foundation of the application is an innovative Text for Help system that provides anonymous text-communication.
Operating 24 hours per day, seven days a week, the system will allow youth and community members to send an anonymous text message and receive an immediate response from a licensed mental health professional. The person sending the text message will be able to hold a conversation with a professional while remaining completely anonymous during the process. Callers are free to disclose their name and location at their discretion. SafeHouse will then provide or refer callers to appropriate services.
Young people struggling with drug or alcohol abuse, depression, difficult family situations, bullying and other issues can receive help while maintaining anonymity. We will also encourage youth to text about friends they feel might be struggling or a danger to themselves or others.
As the application expands, we will be including community partners to help create and host mental health games, community discussions, physical and sexual health resources, and a substance abuse education and support feature.
Through our 25 years of experience with youth, we are always seeking timely and relevant ways we can connect with and help youth. In this age of smart phones, we have found texting to be the most comfortable and effective means of communication.
Students can anonymously text about themselves, expressing substance abuse or mental health concerns, or perhaps disclose concerns about a friend or loved one.
Our application is using technology already being used in a few suburbs of Chicago. The text-a-tip service, implemented in January 2014 has received calls regarding:
Relationship Conflict 17%
Substance Abuse 12%
Self-Harm / Suicide 10%
Local grants will cover a lead licensed therapist, on-call therapists, app development, initial marketing and app management funds. We are asking for additional funding to cover in-school materials and an app presentation specialist who will visit school sites and teach students and community members about the application.
Our need: $30,000
$20,000 Staff Presenter
$10,000 Marketing Materials
-posters, pencils, banners, short video, bus ads, television and radio spots.
The anonymous technology is operative, the app is available for download, our clinical staff, and best practices manual is in place. We are working on fine -tuning every element, so our application is perfect before we announce it to the public. We hope to launch the event in one area of Riverside County, The Coachella Valley, by the end of March. We hope to cover all of Riverside County by the end of the year.
Although the text a counselor feature of the app is the foundation, we do hope to add features such as games, a mood diary, encouraging notifications, and a Q & A section for medical health questions.
We need Rotary members to help us be ambassadors and educators of the application in the community. Rotarians will be educated on the use and functions of the application, the programs at SafeHouse, and a presentation to share at schools and community groups. We would like to see all youth 11-24 years old download the application to their phone, and community outreach will be essential to accomplishing our goal. This project would be a long term volunteer opportunity for Rotarians. We will be offering the position of Presentation Specialist to SafeHouse employee and Rotary member, Birgit Philips.
As we gather data on the amount and type of texts that come through, we anticipate residents of Riverside County to be supportive of this innovative and life-saving technology. We will look for local funders and partners to help support the app. SafeHouse has a full-time grant writer who also seeks out funding.
Marketing will be on-going, and the key to making sure students are aware of the application and how to use it. Educating the community, especially parents, teachers, healthcare professionals will be a key factor in the success of the app.
We will be adding new features to keep interest in the app and create opportunities for earned media.
As it is an anonymous line, the only consistent way we will be able to measure success will be by the amount of text's we receive. If a youth feels comfortable sharing their name and information or a crisis involves law enforcement, the outcome of those incidents will be included in our research. All texts are logged, and trends will be studied.