Does Long Island have a crisis hotline available to teenagers?
Yes. And the HELP program has been trying to get that telephone number -- 516-679-1119 -- to as many teens as possible on Long Island.
"We all know that kids have issues. When teenagers have problems, they don't usually go to adults -- they go to each other," says Lynn Bert, nurse manager of pediatrics at South Nassau Communities Hospital in Oceanside. "Every teen has a cellphone in their pocket," she says, and if the program can get that phone number into the phones of as many teens as possible, they'll have it handy if they are facing a crisis or a friend is.
The HELP (Hospitals Empowering Lifelines Through Peers) program encourages teens to enter the phone number into their phones, and to also tell three friends to do so as well. The number is for the Long Island Crisis Center, and it's staffed 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Callers can be anonymous. Kids can get help with issues such as eating disorders, cyberbullying, family violence, cutting themselves or just because they are down in the dumps, Bert says.
Kids also can text if they prefer, Bert says. Text 839-863 and enter text code TTYNW; texting is available Monday through Friday from 7 to 11 p.m. Longislandcrisiscenter.org is monitored by counselors around the clock.
HELP has been working with school districts, churches and community organizations in the outreach effort.