Texting is the new frontier in breaking the silence on mental health.
Last Thursday, December 5, people across the country were invited to participate in “Text, Talk, and Act,” a Creating Community Solutions event that used texting alongside face-to-face small group conversations to facilitate discussions on mental health. Over 500 people across the country joined the dialogue.
Although this event was scheduled for one day, organizers are keeping the platform open until January 30 so those who missed out can still participate.
In a blog on Huffington Post, Matt Leighninger described the necessity for initiating these topical conversations: “For too many years, we’ve been afraid to talk about mental health. Too many of us suffer in silence, or fail to help people close to us, because we worry about what others will think.” This is an issue especially relevant to youth, who are at an age when mental health problems begin to manifest and when navigating the sea of peers is most difficult—a difficulty that is intensified when one is struggling with his/her own mental health issues or those of a loved one. By starting the conversation at an early age in a way that encourages candid sharing and incorporates tools abundant in the youth population (i.e., cell phones), we can help alleviate the stigma associated with mental health and structure a community of support rather than one of social exclusion and scorn stemming from widespread misconceptions
The instructions for participating in “Text, Talk, and Act” are simple: gather 4-5 people (friends, family members, classmates, strangers) for a one-hour conversation. At least one cell phone is needed to participate (you do not need to have a smartphone—any cell phone will work). To begin the conversation, text “START” to 89800. For the next 60 or so minutes, work as a group through polling questions, discussion questions, and process suggestions delivered via text message and view live poll results as well as ideas other groups texted in via a provided link. The intention is for people to have honest conversations about the ways we can strengthen mental health and provide support on campuses and in communities.
This is a wonderful example of small group dialogues successfully coordinated through a national effort by means of a ubiquitous technology tool. Support the topic AND the process by forming your own small discussion group to keep alive the conversation. It will take more than one day to break the silence on mental health, so lend your voice to the discourse and spread the word so others may do the same. #TextTalkAct