The Grief Girl

TEEN LINE: Teens Supporting Teens

June 23, 2016

On this episode, host Kristi Hugstad talks to two members of TEEN LINE: Program Director Cheryl Eskin and Intern Ric Tennenbaum. Established in 1980 and based out of Cedars-Sinai in Los Angeles, TEEN LINE is a nonprofit, community-based organization that helps troubled teenagers address their problems. Their mission is to provide personal teen-to-teen education and support before problems become a crisis using a national hotline, current technologies and community outreach. Use the show notes below to guide you through this moving, educational episode.


1:40 – Cheryl explains the mission of the 35 year old TEEN LINE, who they are, and what they do.

3:20 – Teens go through 65-hour training program before they’re allowed in the hotline room, and are supervised by adult mental health professional who are there as a resource. The trainees spend an additional 100+ hours in the hotline room before they’re even permitted to pick up a phone call.
4:30 – TEEN LINE also does community outreach to educate communities about their mission and services.

5:00 – Cheryl explains how a teen can get involved with TEEN LINE as a volunteer. 

6:00 – Cheryl explains how teens in need can contact TEEN LINE. They may call 800-TLC-TEEN between 6 and 10 p.m. PST; thereafter, the line is maintained by Didi Hirsch Mental Health Services. They are may also text TEEN to 839863, or go to the web site to contact TEEN LINE via the message board or email. (The message board has 30,000 users.)

7:40 – The top 5 calls that TEEN LINE receives changes over the years, but the top call has always been relationships. Next on the current list are anxiety and stress, depression, suicide, and self-injury. Bullying, LGBTQ, and child abuse fluctuate in the top 10.

8:35 – Formerly a volunteer for three years, and currently a college student, Ric talks about his time as a volunteer, and what training entails.

11:24 – Ric’s internship at TEEN LINE involves going through programming and materials to make sure that it contains the latest trends and concepts. He also discusses how he continues utilizing his TEEN LINE skills at college – including teaching 50 peers how to assess for suicide safety.

15:15 – Ric discuss the type of calls that he found most challenging as a volunteer.

16:40 - Teens being able to turn to teens (especially anonymously) makes them comfortable, which is what makes TEEN LINE so powerful in helping teens.

19:45 – Cheryl provides information about their parent education, which teaches parents how not to be afraid to ask difficult questions.

22:00 – Cheryl and Ric demonstrate a roleplay in which Cheryl is a teen in crisis and Ric is the TEEN volunteer.

33:12 – Kristi, Cheryl, and Ric discuss the roleplay, and how Ric appropriately assessed the call and made the “caller” feel less alone. The volunteers are trained not to give advice; instead, they give options.

35:30 – Cheryl explains why more teens are texting TEEN LINE than calling, and how texting and calling differ from one another.

40:50 – Ric expands on why and how TEEN LINE leaves teens with a wealth of resources instead of allowing them to be dependent solely on Teen Line.

42:40 – Kristi sets up a scenario in which a parent needs advice. . . .

45:45 – Ric talks about why he got involved with TEEN LINE.

47:52 – Cheryl and Ric talk about what grief has taught each of them.

If you know any teens, spread the word about TEEN LINE! Visit TEEN LINE at to find out how to contact their TEEN volunteers, or get information on how to support and understand the teen in your life.

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