In a continued effort to provide its students with multiple means to access mental health supports, Palo Alto Unified School District (PAUSD) has partnered with Crisis Text Line, a national organization that offers a free, 24-hour, seven-day a week text line for individuals in crisis. Trained Crisis Text Line counselors respond to text messages within five minutes and work to deescalate the situation and provide resources.
During the month of February, Gunn and Palo Alto high schools' Wellness Centers rolled out a Crisis Text Line poster design contest among students, in an effort to engage students in the creation of messaging. Students were asked to submit eye-catching posters that would inform their peers of this accessible, confidential means of reaching support. Combined, the PAUSD high schools received a total of more than over 80 submissions. As part of the vetting process, various wellness-affiliated committees, consisting of students, staff, and parents, selected final designs to be printed and distributed throughout PAUSD schools in the coming weeks.
“We believe that Crisis Text Line will meet students’ expressed need for online, anonymous support and will be a resource for them as they navigate through their school experiences, and beyond,” said PAUSD's Director of Wellness and Support Services Dr. Brenda Carrillo.
Dr. Carrillo also expressed that the partnership with Crisis Text Line could not come at a better time given the national attention on a new television series, “13 Reasons Why”. “13 Reasons Why” is a fictional show, based on a book, about a high school character who takes her life by suicide. The series addresses some of the concerns that adolescents unfortunately sometimes face, including bullying, sexual assault, abuse, and depression.
PAUSD parents and guardians may wish to discuss some of the issues mentioned above in the event their student chooses to view this Netflix series. Although Netflix opened all 13 episodes for continuous viewing, PAUSD mental health experts advise metered viewing to allow time to process and discuss themes and feelings that may arise.
All counselors in PAUSD have been informed of this television series. As always, they are a resource for all students. If parents have questions about how to have conversations with their students, the counseling teams at all schools or the wellness centers staff at the high school level are always available for parents and students.
PAUSD mental health experts reiterate that it is important for adults to emphasize that suicide is complex and preventable and mental health disorders like depression are treatable with professional care. Additionally, promoting help seeking behaviors and resources is critical, which is why PAUSD is committed to adding Crisis Text Line as a resource for PAUSD students.
To learn more about Crisis Text Line, parents and guardians can visit the organization's website. For additional resources on crisis support, the PAUSD Department of Wellness and Support Services has made a list available for parents and guardians here.