In a recent New Yorker article, writer Alice Gregory describes Crisis Text Line, a new service for youth who are in need of support. Run by Nancy Lublin, Crisis Text Line is a national 24/7 crisis-intervention hotline that connects trained volunteers with youth exclusively through text messaging. As Gregory notes, many teens suffer depression and suicide ranks third amongst causes of death in this age group. And, although older generations may feel more comfortable picking up the phone or sending an email, teens are far more likely to connect with their friends over text. Indeed, the average teen sends over 65 texts per day.

The field of mentoring has a lot to learn from some of its features, particularly as it bears on how we might better connect with teens through texts.

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Try to validate the teen without minimizing their problem, however minor.


Provide reassurance that you are in control and compentent, including not making typos or getting being overly enthusiastic.


The volunteers try to put the young person who is texting by not immediately jumping into problem-solving mode. Wherever possible, they compliment the young person on their strength and offer validation and empathic responses that will lead the young person to explain more.


Respond with a casual greeting but be attuned to the teen so you can use similar language and pull for more details.


Counsellors on duty write back within 5 minutes.