February 27, 2019
Fenwick High School is pleased to introduce a new mental health resource for our students called "support4U.” It will be available beginning March 4.
What is support4U? It is a mental health-related prevention and support resource for students, by which they can text licensed mental health clinicians any time of the day for assistance or guidance. While students can initiate a text conversation on any issue, some of the matters that students 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 so that student concerns about their identity are not a barrier to reaching out for help. The clinician’s goal during the text conversation is to steer the student to available resources in the school and community. In cases with an identified extreme threat of danger, clinicians have the ability to alert local authorities. However, the vast majority of interactions result in the student obtaining immediate support from the clinician and being informed about local individuals (frequently school-based) who can assist them with their concern.
The resource was established by LEAD, a not-for-profit agency in Lake County. It is referred to as “Text-A-Tip” in other communities. The resource is present throughout northern Illinois and in several other states and is highly regarded in these communities as a valuable mental health asset for young people. Fenwick administrators and social workers have been trained on the workings of the system, and have been identified as key contacts in case of emergency.
While the program will be rolled out again before the start of the 2019-20 school year, there is considerable value for it to be launched now. Aside from offering assistance to students this spring, making the program available now will ensure that students have supports available to them when they do not have ready access to Student Services staff over the summer months. We will be sharing information about support4U with students later this week and next week.
Fenwick High School appreciates the Community Mental Health Board of Oak Park Township, River Forest Township, the Oak Park-River Forest Community Foundation, and the Oak Park-River Forest Rotary Club for generously underwriting the cost of this resource. We are very grateful for their sponsorship and dedication to this program that was rolled out in all Oak Park and River Forest schools and that now will be offered to Fenwick students. We also appreciate the assistance of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) in helping our school to promote this resource to our Fenwick community. We look forward to providing support4U to our students, and we anticipate it being an effective measure in supporting positive mental health among our youth.