While most help lines are staffed by adult volunteers, Teen Line's telephones are answered by high school students who are trained to listen, to ask questions, and to help the caller work through troubling situations and find his or her own solutions.
Teen Line grew out of the practice of Dr. Leader, Dr. Terry Lipton, and others in the Department of Psychiatry at Cedars-Sinai. Says Dr. Leader, "One day we realized that clinically we're only reaching a small number of the young people who need help. "Most don't want to go to their parents or other adults for help. The one thing that they seem willing to do is talk to another teen." Working with Cedars-Sinai, she and the others developed the Teen Line program -- a current rotating staff of 90 trained volunteer teens to answer the telephones, and adult mental health professionals who volunteer to provide backup on each shift. Funding is provided by individual donations, corporate and foundation grants, and an annual fundraising luncheon. Cedars-Sinai provides the facilities for Teen Line, including the hotline phone center.
Teen Line has been phenomenally successful on two levels. First, it meets a need for callers. "The calls are fascinating," says Dr. Leader. "For instance, one of the teen magazines ran an article on suicide pacts. We got calls from all over the country after that issue hit the newsstands, including calls from teens involved in five separate pacts."
The second way the program succeeds is in the lives of the volunteers
themselves. "Lots of the young people who started with us have gone on to give
service to their community," says Leader. "Also, colleges look very favorably on
a resume that includes volunteering here. It shows that the teens
Contact: Sandra Van
Cedars-Sinai Medical Center