By LILY TINOCO | Reporter
Palisadians have been working with nonprofit Teen Line to offer support to struggling peers all over the world during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Teen Line helps to prevent crises by providing a safe space to talk about difficult issues through peer-to-peer support and education,” according to a press release about the program.
Due to the pandemic, Teen Line volunteers have been working remotely since March 13. Trained teens, who usually take phone calls, have volunteered their time to make themselves available via email or text every night from 6 to 9 p.m.
Calls are currently being rolled over to Didi Hirsch’s Suicide Prevention Center, but Program Director Cheryl Eskin said they are actively looking into ways for teen volunteers to take calls again.
“Teens know and can relate to other teens because we know what other people our age go through and struggle with,” said Sam, a Teen Line volunteer and Palisadian. “Teenagers don’t feel comfortable talking with adults about certain things. Teen Line has given kids an outlet to talk to other kids their age, and it creates that comfort level for them to open up and express what they couldn’t to an adult.”
Eskin added that since the start of the pandemic, outreach concerns have changed.
“Child abuse has gone up astronomically … loneliness, anxiety,” she said to the Palisadian-Post. “School problems are going down, friend problems going down, family problems going up.”
Palisadian Selene added that teens have reached out because of their loneliness and inability to keep up with their friends, as opposed to more common, pre-pandemic concerns, like relationship issues or break-up advice.
Selene joined the team roughly two years ago in 2018 and is currently a listener. She said she has always been interested in psychology and the way people interact, and wanted to dedicate her free time to helping those in need.
“I immigrated from Hong Kong to America in 2018—like early 2018,” Selene shared. “Experiencing a huge cultural change, I wanted to be more involved helping different people. I just really wanted to help teenagers who don’t have the resources I have … who are really in need of just talking to someone and lending an ear to them.”
“I think it’s hard to connect, even over the internet, with your friends,” said Annie, another Palisadian Teen Line listener. “Being with your family every day can be hard on people, especially if they come from a household that might not be the most supportive.”
Annie, who has been a volunteer for roughly four years, said Teen Line has been a great way to give back and that she’s made some of her closest friends through the organization. She also said she’s gained communication skills and experience in social work. She aims to work toward the de-stigmatization of mental health and outreach.
Currently there are 150 teen volunteers and 20 adult volunteers. The adults are mental health professionals working toward their licensure, offering support.
Teen Line has three training groups per year, and usually takes 20 to 22 teens per training group. To be a listener, you have to be in high-school and within the greater Los Angeles area.
To learn more, visit teenlineonline.org.
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