Announcing Text-A-Tip Youth Counseling Program

 Photo Credit: Data collected from Lake Forest/Lake Bluff Text-A-Tip program

A wonderful collaboration between the Township, the local middle schools, junior highs and high schools, and the social service agencies that provide critical services to our community has resulted in the implementation of a new counseling resource for our youth. This program is called Text-A-Tip.
Residents may have heard of Text-A-Tip from neighboring communities as it has been in place in Lake county since its inception in 2014 and has recently been rolled out across McHenry County. The service is a text hotline which provides 24/7 anonymous professional counseling for youth at no charge. Students in grades 5 through 12 are being introduced to this resource through the health and wellness curriculum in their schools, by local mental health professionals who work with pre-teens and teens, from youth drop-in center personnel and from the local police. Hopefully parents will discuss this resource with their children, as well.
Not all students will need to use Text-A-Tip, but they will all be informed about the number to text in case a situation ever arises in which they feel they need clinical support. Some adolescents may encounter situations wherein they want to seek assistance, but they may be afraid of the potential stigma of visiting a school social worker, or they might be unaware of the clinical support available to them through local mental health agencies. However, every student can text this line if and when a problem—big or small—presents itself.
Texts are responded to by professional counselors at Child, Adolescent & Family Recovery Center (CAFRC), and 93% of the time that response is delivered within 1-3 minutes. Clinicians will first develop a rapport with the texter and assess his/her situation, provide skills training if needed, and may suggest a referral for traditional counseling by local professionals is warranted. In some cases, an emergency intervention may be needed. In all cases, these texts are anonymous and the party texting cannot be identified without his/her decision to share his identity with the counselor.
When a texter decides to accept a referral for traditional therapeutic support, he/she will provide his hometown to the clinician who will then offer three referrals in his area. School social workers will receive referrals as will Counseling Center of the North Shore, Family Service Center, Family Service of Glencoe, Haven for Youth, Josselyn Center and PEER Services as appropriate based on individual situations.
LEAD/Linking Efforts Against Drugs is a non-profit drug prevention organization which developed Text-A-Tip in response to community need after a tragic series of youth suicides in Lake Forest. LEAD conducts programs and events designed to support parents and teens in building healthy relationships and finding alternatives to using drugs and alcohol. LEAD has a 29-year track record of delivering quality programs that effect community change. Learn more about LEAD at
Executive Director Andy Duran has developed LEAD into a nationally recognized organization that offers trainings, workshops and technical assistance for organizations all over the country. Mr. Duran, who is passionate about the lives of young people and about the adults who serve them, has been the driving force in developing and implementing Text-A-Tip across the U.S. The Township is honored that Mr. Duran has agreed to speak at our Annual Town Meeting on April 12, 2016, and we hope residents interested in the launch of Text-A-Tip will join us for this exciting event. The launch is preliminarily slated for the end of February.
If you have questions about the Text-A-Tip program, you can get them answered at the Annual Town Meeting or come by the Township Office to discuss your thoughts. Additionally, you can ask your middle school, junior high and high school children about the program as the program is beginning to be introduced to students in the Township during the month of March. We share your concern for the health and well-being of our youth, and we are pleased to implement another fine program on their behalf. 


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