On Tuesday, December 13 Lehi High School and Willowcreek Middle School joined a growing number of Utah schools participating in a program called “SafeUT.” SafeUT is a free app that can be downloaded onto any smart phone and provides youth with real time crisis intervention through text, calls, or chat.
Using the SafeUT app students can reach out for help if they feel that they or their friends are in danger. They can send confidential tips on bullying, school threats of violence or emergencies. These messages are received by staff who are trained to deal with a wide array of problems including emotional crisis, grief and loss, drug and alcohol problems, mental health issues, self-harm, and suicidal behavior. All texts, tips and calls and handled by licensed clinicians through the University of Utah Neuropsychiatric Institute CrisisLine call center.
John Broadhead, Assistant Principal at Willowcreek Middle School, is excited about the program and feels it will give students another safe way to reach out for help in difficult situations. “I have had the opportunity to work with tip lines at other schools and they have been helpful to the school and the students. This is a great way for them to reach out and share information in a less intimidating way than coming to the office or the guidance office.”
This program is funded by the State Legislature and has been phased in over the past year. Alpine School District was invited to join the program in December. Both Lehi and Willowcreek chose to have teachers introduce the program in a low-key manner on Tuesday and there are posters up in the school with information on how to access help.
“Some schools have been hesitant to become involved in the program with concerns about liability,” Broadhead said. “Since all the calls and texts are routed through the state to trained crisis managers on a 24-hour basis, we feel it is an important program to offer to our students.”
The SafeUT phone app is free and is available to all student and parents through the Apple App Store or the Android Play Store.