State Senator Becca Rausch has tabled a budget change to allocate $ 250,000 to a pilot line-of-text program to support adolescent mental health.
The 2022 budget change was approved by the Senate last week, said Rausch, a Needham Democrat who represents Attleboro, North Attleboro, Plainville, Wrentham and Norfolk.
The funds would help Samaritans, Inc. from Boston to develop a text service accessible to youth in the state regardless of insurance, income, or background, she said.
For 40 years, Samaritans have provided life-saving suicide prevention services and non-judgmental support across the state.
According to Rausch, the line of text will be staffed by Samaritans to train and supervise youthful volunteers who provide evidence-based suicide prevention and mental health support.
Funding will also support marketing and communications promoting the service, suicide prevention and youth mental health support workshops, as well as culturally sensitive and linguistically appropriate services to reach diverse communities.
“The idea for this pilot program came directly from many young people I represent,” said Rausch in a statement.
During a virtual student legislative forum in her district, Rausch said voters spoke about classmates they’d lost to suicide and the real-life fears they faced when they decided to seek help with mental health problems.
According to Mental Health America, nearly 8 percent of teenagers in the United States have major depression and 60 percent of them are not receiving mental health treatment.
Depression rates are highest among adolescents who, according to the organization, identify as more than one race, at 12.4 percent.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, teenagers 11-17 years of age were more likely than any other age group to experience moderate to severe symptoms of anxiety and depression.
Samaritans have trained more than 5,250 volunteers in friendship skills, offered suicide prevention workshops to 135,000 people, and provided help and support to 13,000 people who have lost a loved one to suicide.
David Linton can be reached at 508-236-0338.