Teen Talk

Jewish Big Brothers Big Sisters of Los Angeles (JBBBSLA) has launched their updated Teen Talk shared platform now operating on both iOS and Android. Through this new technology, Teen Talk can reach more teen users and support them through these trying times. Since 2018, Teen Talk has become a critically important resource for teens seeking mental health support. And yet, that support has only been available to teens using an Apple or iOS device. When COVID-19 hit, the team made it their mission to get to work and launch the shared platform to reach additional teens on Android devices. JBBBSLA and the Teen Talk team would not have been able to reach this goal without the generous support from the Jewish Community Foundation of Los Angeles, W.M. Keck Foundation, The Jay and Rose Phillips Family Foundation of California, and Beverly Hills Rotary Community Foundation. Departing CEO of JBBBSLA, Randy Schwab was instrumental in bringing this app to life and stated, “Teen Talk has allowed our agency to expand its reach in the most innovative way. For the first time, teens can access real time social/emotional help when and where they need it, right in the palm of their hand.”
    Created in partnership with JBBBSLA and Teen Line, Teen Talk is an innovative free app where teens seek support anonymously from trained peers. Through the app, tens of thousands of teens from around the world receive compassionate support from trained Teen Advisors. The app was launched in May 2018 and has since had over 36,000 downloads. Though teens can post 24/7, Teen Advisors are logged on and answering posts 7 days a week from 5:00-10:00 pm PT. Teen Talk is an outlet for teens to get support from those who understand their hardships most, other teens. These trained Teen Advisors care immensely and go through an extensive interview process and training to prepare for this commitment. Teens post about a wide range of topics such as sexuality, self-harm, depression, abuse, anxiety, and relationships. The app is safe and supervised by experienced mental health clinicians. Prior to COVID-19, teens had been struggling with feelings of isolation and limited access to mental health resources, however, the pandemic amplified their need, and Teen Talk was there to help. Almost immediately, Teen Talk experienced an increase in the number of posts, severity of topics and increased downloads. Teen Talk has proven to be a safe space for teens to turn to feel heard without judgment. 
    Teens in crisis often turn to their peers for help, rather than parents or teachers. Teen Talk is the only service offering trained and supervised teen support through an app. Teen Talk Advisors complete a rigorous 50-hour training that typically meets live but was adapted during the pandemic to meet virtually. Virtual training allowed Teen Talk to reach an even wider cross section of compassionate teens from across the West Coast who were eager to apply and make a difference. The training provided many teens a sense of purpose and direction during the difficult year. Once Teen Advisors complete their training, they commit to two 2-hour shifts per month that is done from the comfort and safety of their own homes. Advisors are supervised by mental health professionals who monitor posts and responses. The supervisors have crisis experience and provide support to Teen Advisors during each of their shifts. 
    A major component of the rebuild was the implementation of a comprehensive back end monitoring dashboard for teen advisors and supervisors. Teen Advisors have a streamlined dashboard that was created for them to easily access and respond to incoming posts. Posts are color coded by topic allowing for an easier review and quicker response time.
    Supervisors can now utilize the innovative dashboard technology to monitor responses, supervise the teens, and provide feedback. 
    With the new launch, the wait is finally over for Android users. Both the iOS and Android users benefit from the exceptional enhancements such as a new modern look and interactive features. Users can rate the support they receive and browse through existing posts to see how they can relate to their peers. If a teen does not feel ready to post, they are able to learn from others experiences and the support they received. Most importantly, they can see that they are not alone and though their problems feel overwhelming and at times isolating, there are other teens out there in the world who get it.  
    JBBBSLA also provides mentoring, camp, college guidance, and scholarship programs to youth in Los Angeles County. The focus of JBBBSLA’s programs is to provide vulnerable youth with positive role models. The agency has over 100 years of expertise in helping children succeed.  


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