To high school seniors, college & graduate students, and young professionals!

 

TOUCHING THE HEART

We want to support you in navigating the challenges of your life.

We want to connect with you every once in awhile by text and send you messages just to say hello.
We also want to help you keep your wellness as the highest priority so we will send tips for stress reduction and resilience. We all need more resilience and connections!

JFS is asking you to join our Touching the Heart program by giving us your first name and phone number to add to our database. We will send occasional text messages with tips and just to say hello and see how you are doing.

With this in mind, would you share your first name and text/phone number.

High School StudentHigher Education StudentYoung Professional

Human beings thrive on connection. When this need is met, we feel we are cared about and that we belong. Connection softens feelings of isolation and loneliness. Human connection is as important each day as the basics of food and water. In times of crisis or transition, the need for connection increases. Certainly, we all seek connection from those we know whether family, friends, or coworkers. Current research however, has turned up a remarkable finding about human connection, concluding that even contact from an anonymous person has enormous value for the wellbeing of the recipient.

With rates of completed suicide at very high levels in the military, the concept of sending anonymous text messages to those at risk was put into place to discover if hopelessness and the desire to take one’s life might be positively impacted. This text program has been shown to reduce rates of depression throughout the military.

With this tested program as our model, Jewish Family Service launched a pilot program that we named Touching the Heart. Our initial goal was to connect with students heading to college. We know that young adults leaving home and heading to college face a significant transition period as they settle into a dorm, make new friends, and begin classes. This transition can lead to feelings of loneliness and isolation for many and increased risk of depression, anxiety and suicidal ideation.

Our Mental Health Director writes text messages just to say hello and provide a message of caring, and to be a listening ear to those in need. We will also send thoughts on settling into college life, provide ideas for increasing wellness and managing stress, and always include words of support for those new to experiencing life away from home. We will offer campus referrals to any student who would like to schedule an appointment for ongoing support.

Sample Message: Hi, Welcome to Touching the Heart!  Keeping you close to home as college begins.  We are piloting this text connection program with you to discover how we can support you while you are away and be there for you with a few words of support every two weeks to make your days a little easier. You can text me back anytime if you need additional support or have questions. Laurie Silver, Jewish Family Service Houston.

Since the successful launch of Touching the Heart, JFS has begun sending text messages to graduating high school seniors in advance of their college departure as well young professionals working throughout the Houston and surrounding area.

Our text recipients are students in schools and college you know well!

Robert M. Beren Academy, Torah Day School, Emery Weiner, Hillel Houston and Austin, St. John’s School, Kinkaid School, Bellaire High School, Memorial High School, Lamar High School, the High School for the Performing and Visual Arts, University of Houston, University of Houston Sugarland, University of Texas at Arlington, University of Texas at Austin, Trinity University in San Antonio, University of Richmond, University of Virginia, University of Miami, Indiana University, University of Chicago and Trinity University to name a few.

Things You Can Do If You Are in High School or College

  • Spend time writing in your journal. Identify your support system; friends and family and other trusted adults who are there for you if you are struggling and need to connect and feel safe and heard.
  • Write about the healthy activities that leave you feeling restored and relaxed and see if you can make the list longer each time you journal.
  • Make time for connection with your friends and trusted adults every week.
  • Tell someone who is trusted if you believe you would benefit from counseling
  • Consider writing the things you are grateful for over your winter break and see how you feel!
  • Keep a conversation going with your friends about how they are feeling.
  • Be sure you have had your annual physical and consider an annual counseling “physical.”

Please help us to reach out to those of any age who would benefit from connection by contacting Katelyn Bleiweiss at kbleiweiss@jfshouston.org