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Lake Forest Area Launches Text for Help System

Residents of Lake Forest, Lake Bluff and Knollwood can anonymously report concerns about mental health and other issues via text message.

The Community Wellness Task Force of Lake Forest and Lake Bluff launched Monday a 24/7 anonymous text system called Text-A-Tip for to youths and adults in Lake Forest, Lake Bluff and Knollwood. 

This new resource is spearheaded by community partners including LEAD, Lake Forest High School, Lake Forest College, Northwestern Lake Forest Hospital, and both the City of Lake Forest and Village of Lake Bluff police departments.

The system will allow community members to send a text message to a dedicated number and receive an immediate response. The person sending the text message will be able to hold a conversation with the respondent while remaining completely anonymous during the process. Persons wishing to share a concern about himself or herself or someone else will be able to do so, and receive help, while maintaining anonymity.

While the Text-A-Tip system will be available for communication of any concern, its intended purpose is for community members to be able to use it when they need immediate mental health assistance for themselves or for a friend. The anonymity of the communication makes it a comfortable place for someone to share a concern about another individual without risk of someone knowing who sent the report. The ultimate outcome will provide an outlet for community members to voice concerns about themselves or someone else in an ultimate effort to create a safer and healthier community.

How It Works:

The community receives a unique ID which routes messages, in real-time, to respondents. All messages are sent through a cloaking server located in Canada that keeps the communication completely anonymous. 

The system went live at 9 a.m. Jan. 20. Anyone wishing to use the system can simply text the phrase “847HELP” to 274637.

Who Responds to the Texts?

Response team consists of Licensed/Certified Mental Health Professionals from the Child, Adolescent, and Family Recovery Center in Lake Bluff, meaning all respondents will be local clinicians who are known to the community.  Respondents will rotate via a pre-established, on-call schedule and will be responsible for appropriately responding to each communication and for following up and reporting whenever necessary. In the case of a life-threatening condition or criminal activity, emergency responders will be notified.

This new system has been in the testing, training and implementation phase for the past three months, and numerous community groups have received a demonstration of the system’s features.

Substantial funding has been provided by LEAD and the Community Wellness Task Force.  Donations are welcome to ensure that this much needed resource can continue.

For more information, visit www.leadingefforts.org or call (847) 295-9075.

— Information provided by LEAD

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