Since Teen Lifeline began in 2008, it has been part of our task to know what resources are out there, connect to them, evaluate them and share them with the people that need them. In spite of our efforts and the efforts of those around us, it is still difficult, especially in times of great need (crisis), to know where to get those resources. This is why I still hear school counselors say, “When (it) happened, we didn’t know who to call.” It is also why parents share the same sentiment.
I believe the core reason for this is that in times of crisis or even just an extended adrenaline rush, our brains are trying to access information that we have not spent time inputting into our brain. Once I realized this for myself, I began to make some changes in the kinds of information I chose to intake. I decided to begin consuming the information I may need in a crisis or simply a difficult situation so that my brain could recall it when I needed it. If my brain couldn’t recall it, I wanted to be able to know where to look or who to call.
The fact is, if you are a school counselor or a parent or a youth worker of any kind, and you talk to a teen dealing with a difficult issue or who is in crisis, and Google “teen counseling” or “teen in crisis,” you will get hundreds of millions of hits. Where do you go from there?
Here are some of the places that I would suggest starting, and I would suggest doing it today- before you and your teen are in crisis. These things are easy to use, bookmark digitally, or create a list in a free service like Google Docs for reference later.
- Ask yourself what kind of services you are looking for. I would suggest checking on a few and at least having a list that includes services for teen parents, addiction treatment for teens, support group, preventative group, spiritual guidance ministries and a shelter. Having a list of these available may never be something you need, but if you do, it will be worth making the few phone calls and/or visits it takes to be prepared. Who knows, you may be doing the research for a friend and you just don’t know it yet. You can find some suggestions of most of these on our Resources page.
- Read books about teen development or about issues you hear your teen talking about. I have to admit, I have not always been a reader, but then I discovered audio books. Some people get hung up on this not being “reading” but guess what – I’ve “read” more books then most of those people in the last 12 months. I use the free public library app, Overdrive. You can check out books with your library card and listen to them on your commute. If you don’t want to listen, you can also download eBooks. You may feel you aren’t a reader, but you have to get over that and read for the sake of your kids. Here are some suggestions I would recommend to start with, no I haven’t read them all yet: Lifelivedbetter Book List
- Connect to local networks. This may sound old fashioned to some of you, but driving to a place and sitting in a room and engaging in conversation, even listening to a presentation, is how many things in the world still get done. I am a part of several groups. The Mental Health America of Tarrant County chapter hosts a Suicide Awareness Coalition meeting monthly, and it has been a great way to connect with people focused on educating others about recognizing and preventing suicide along with other mental health issues. One of the local school districts hosts a quarterly Safe Schools community meeting during the school year. These have addressed many diverse but important issues. I am also a member of a professional group for Nonprofit Executive Directors. Now, I know that some of you are thinking I don’t fit any of those, there isn’t a group out there for me, but I am willing to bet you are wrong, you just haven’t looked in the right place yet.
Keep digging, be proactive, be prepared. And when the need arrises, you won’t be scratching your head – you will be taking action. I would love to hear some ideas you have about being resource ready as you deal with students.