HearMeWA statewide reporting system focuses on the safety and well-being of young people

Saturday, June 15, 2024

No problem is too small to report to
Attorney General Bob Ferguson announced the launch of HearMeWA, a first-of-its-kind statewide reporting system exclusively focused on the safety and well-being of young people.

HearMeWA removes barriers to help young Washingtonians get the help they need to deal with their most pressing challenges: bullying, social pressures, suicidal thoughts, threats of violence, or anything that makes life hard. 

No problem is too small to report to HearMeWA, which was created with direct input from the young people it serves.

HearMeWA makes it easy to connect youth to a wide range of existing support services, by offering a direct line to a national crisis center 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. 

Reports can be made by phone, text, online or in the HearMeWA mobile apps available in the Apple or Google stores. Once a report is filed, highly trained crisis counselors triage them and connect the person with service providers who can help.

Youth mental health is in crisis. Data show that eating disorders in adolescents more than doubled from 2018 to 2022. The rate of young people dealing with depression doubled from 2009 to 2019, to nearly 16%. According to Forbes, 57.7% of Washington youth with depression do not receive mental health services.

HearMeWA can help youth with a variety of challenges, such as:
  • Bullying;
  • Mental health struggles, such as depression or anxiety;
  • Suicidal thoughts;
  • Domestic violence;
  • Housing or food insecurity;
  • Gender identity;
  • Threats of violence or rumors of a school shooting;
  • Anything that makes life hard.

From the start, young Washingtonians from across the state have been directly involved in the creation and outreach for HearMeWA.

Members of the HearMeWA Youth Advisory Group meet quarterly to offer feedback on how to build trust and get the word out about the program. The Youth Advisory Group also consulted on branding for the program, including the name. Other youth have participated in surveys and focus groups to offer feedback on the program.

How to file a report to HearMeWA

Anyone with information about risks or potential risks to the safety or well-being of youth can call the toll-free, statewide number at 888-537-1634 or make a report online by visiting HearMeWA.org and clicking the “send a tip” button. Youth can also text HearMeWA to 738477, or file a report on the app available in the app store on their mobile device.

Youth up to age 25 and any concerned adults can file a report with HearMeWA. Identifying information such as name, age or address are optional, meaning youth can file anonymously if they choose.

Unlike other crisis hotlines, HearMeWA allows anyone filing or responding to a report to track it and provide updates. That means help is not cut off once the first call or communication ends. Every individual who files a report is given a tip ID and password to review the report later, either online, on the app or by phone.

What happens when you file a report to HearMeWA

When youth or a concerned adult files a report to HearMeWA, it is immediately received by a highly trained crisis counselor with the Sandy Hook Promise National Crisis Center. The counselor makes contact with the individual, talks through the details of the incident and triages it based on the level of urgency. 

The most urgent reports that threaten someone’s life or safety are routed to 911 or emergency responders. If a school is identified in an incident, such as an active shooter threat, the school is simultaneously notified.

Less urgent incidents are triaged to a wide range of other types of responders. Responders include:
  • Schools, where youth could be connected with counselors, social workers, nurses or other trusted adults in their community;
  • Regional crisis lines or 988, the national suicide prevention line;
  • Local law enforcement and emergency responders;
  • Child protective services;
  • Other community-based resources.This range of responders makes HearMeWA the first of its kind in the country. 
About the Sandy Hook Promise National Crisis Center

HearMeWA triages all its reports through the Sandy Hook Promise National Crisis Center. This crisis center runs similar programs in other states, and is the only crisis center dedicated solely to school-based, anonymous reporting.

The Sandy Hook Promise National Crisis Center already serves 3.5 million youth across the country. It operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year.

“Every minute of every day, the crisis counselors in the National Crisis Center are here to connect young people to live-saving and life-changing resources whenever they’re in need, no matter what issues they’re facing,” said Crystal Garrant, chief program officer at Sandy Hook Promise. 
“All young Washingtonians have the right to physical and emotional safety. HearMeWA will provide a lifeline, ensuring that young people have a trusted adult to turn for help 24/7/365.”

Sandy Hook Promise, the nonprofit that operates the crisis center, educates and empowers youth and adults to prevent violence in schools, homes and communities. It is led by several family members whose loved ones were killed in the tragic mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School on Dec. 14, 2012.

All of Washington’s 39 counties were represented in the Youth Program Team’s outreach. It affirmed that communities, especially in rural areas, lack sufficient trusted resources for dealing with the broad range of challenges youth face. Often underserved communities do not have an alternative to calling 911 when they need help. Additionally, some youth say they know there are resources out there for them, but they are located somewhere other than where they live.

HearMeWA helps fill those gaps, and also addresses a range of issues that are not suitable for a 911 call, such as housing insecurity or bullying.

To file a report or learn more about HearMeWA, visit HearMeWA.org.


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