Support4U is an accessible, text-based mental health care service available to middle school and high school students in the communities of Oak Park and River Forest.
Students experiencing depression, anxiety, stress, emotional disconnect, or any other symptom are able to text the service at any time of day and be connected to a professional care provider in a discreet manner.
Mental health issues reported in adolescents have been steadily rising over the past 10 years. Today, one in five children aged 13-18 have a serious mental illness, and suicide is the third leading cause in deaths for children and young adults aged 10-24, according to a study reported by the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI).
In order to provide students with an accessible and discreet way to get in touch with mental health caregivers, representatives from Oak Park Districts 97 and 200, in conjunction with River Forest District 90, officially launched Support4U in May and plan to continue making improvements to the service leading up to the upcoming academic year this fall, according to school officials.
Mental health continues to be a pressing and complex topic amongst American youth and has become more prevalent in the entertainment industry as a result.
In April 2017, rapper Logic released a song titled “1-800-273-8255,” which is the phone number for the National Suicide Prevention hotline. Additionally, Netflix’s popular original series “13 Reasons Why” follows the story of a group of high school students who allegedly contributed to the suicide of one of their classmates, citing bullying and abuse.
School officials are hopeful that students will use Support4U whenever they need to speak about difficult topics that will be hard to disclose with parents or friends.