Submitted by haleyl on Fri, 03/24/2017 - 08:22
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Being a teenager isn’t always easy. One in five kids between the ages of 13 and 18 live with some sort of mental health condition, and suicide is the third leading cause of death for individuals between the ages of 10 and 24. Sometimes kids who are struggling don’t know where to turn. Officials at the Grand County School District hope to make finding help easier through the SafeUT app.

SafeUT is a crisis text and tip line that is operational statewide. According to officials from the University of Utah who have launched the tip line it provides “real time crisis intervention to youth through texting.”

The app, which is free and easy to use, connects students directly to licensed clinical social workers at the University of Utah Neuropsychiatric Institute. “Within minutes, a live trained crisis counselor will answer and ask about their situation,” a handout on the app said. “They will provide crisis support and intervention and work with the texter to create a forward thinking plan to support continued safety and referrals as needed.”

Though the app provides a safe way for students to access a professional anytime they’re dealing with a personal crisis, that’s not the program’s sole purpose. It also serves “as a confidential tip program to handle tips on bullying, school threats of violence, or emergencies,” according to officials. Students who submit a tip are then given a password so they can follow up on their information.

In the event of a tip related to bullying or threats, the information is sent on to members of the school administration and local law enforcement. All other interactions are kept confidential, and students using the program can remain anonymous if they choose to. “We take anonymity seriously,” officials wrote. However, they stressed that they believe in “Active Rescue.” “Meaning if we feel we cannot keep the texter safe or there is immediate danger, we will alert emergency services to provide a face to face evaluation for safety.”

“In today's fast paced socially interactive world which surrounds and envelops our children, we need a resource which can be accessed individually in a manner that is common for our 21st century children,” Grand County School District Superintendent Scott Crane said. “SafeUT is a resource that gives our children the access to professional immediate counseling that can support them in this difficult social world of ours. I see this program as vital to the well-being and positive growth of our children.”

The program will be launched simultaneously at Helen M. Knight Elementary School, Grand County Middle School, and Grand County High School on March 29 with age appropriate assemblies designed to teach the kids how and when to use the app. Students who have a cell phone will be given the opportunity to download the app. Parents are invited to attend the assemblies which will be held at the following times:

HMK grades 3-6- 9:30-10:00 am in the gymnasium (Younger students will be shown how to access the tipline through the school computers in their individual classrooms.)

GCMS grade 7 : 1:15-1:45 pm in the gymnasium

GCMS grade 8: 2:00-2:30 pm in the gymnasium

GCHS all grades: 8:00 am in the auditorium

 

While the app is already available for download for both Apple and Android users, it will not be fully functional locally until March 29. Additional information about the program can be found here: http://healthcare.utah.edu/uni/clinical-services/safe-ut/.