“I can’t handle it…..I don’t want to be here anymore.” -Hyper
The above message was not from a video game teammate. It was
a message from a teen I had never met. As I sat down in the chair that I do
homework in every night, I readied myself for the shift I was about to start. I
am a Teen Talk Peer Advisor, helping other teens through some of their most
The topic of mental health didn’t really hit home until my
close friend was bullied so much that he began high school elsewhere. I
realized I wanted to help others who were struggling, but I didn’t know where
to start. During my freshman year of high school, I participated in L’Taken. I
focused my efforts on mental health support within schools. From cyberbullying
to depression, loneliness, and anger, I saw how frequently my friends were
being affected and suffering.
After my L’Taken trip, I was hooked. I learned that I did
not have to be a bystander. I could make a difference. I discovered Teen Talk,
an organization that helps struggling teens connect with trained peer advisors
in a free, anonymous, safe space. Interested, I applied to and was selected,
participating with teens across the country in 40 hours of training in mental
health crisis intervention, reflective communication, and self-care skills.
Now as an advisor, I take shifts each month. The platform
lets people fully participate in a non-judgmental space. Teens like Blue
Alligator reach out for help. I meet them during vulnerable times in their lives
and I believe that I make a difference helping to repair one person’s world at
Did you know that half of all mental health conditions start
by fourteen years of age, but most cases are undetected and untreated? Teen
Talk provides an excellent space for teens to get non-judgmental, anonymous
There are many more people to help and even more ways to
collaborate with others to make a difference. The program is based in
California, but the online platform needs peer advisors from all over the
Here is how you can train to be a Teen Advisor:
- Teens in grades 9-11 can apply to become a
volunteer and it is all remote.
- There is a 40-hour training and commitment of to
two shifts per month for one year.
- Teens are always supervised and supported by
professional clinicians while acting as a teen advisor on the app.
About the Author: Daniel
Tothy is a senior at the University of Chicago Lab Schools. For the past two
years, he has been a peer advisor for Teen Talk, an online, anonymous platform
that supports teens in their moments of need. In his free time, Daniel is the
vice president of his school’s Jewish Students Association, a co-founder of the
Marine Biology Club, and the captain of his fencing team. He has also been a
madrich for four years at Chicago Sinai Congregation. This summer, after ten
years as a camper, Daniel is excited to be a counselor at Adirondack Camp in
upstate New York where he will teach sailing and fencing.