• About
  • FAQ’s
  • Tips for Parents
  • Tips for Young People
  • Yearly Report

What’s Up SafeHouse, our new downloadable phone App, provides anonymous text-communication, 24 /7  with a licensed mental health professional from SafeHouse.  Young people who are struggling with drug or alcohol abuse, depression, difficult family situations, bullying and other issues can receive help, while maintaining anonymity.  Youth and parents are also encouraged text about their friend/child they feel may be struggling or are in danger.

Download the app or text our toll-free number 844.204.0880 to text with a trained counselor.AppStoreGooglePlay

Major Funding Provided by Desert Healthcare District and The Regional Access Project Foundation
A Special Thanks to Michael’s House and The Break The Stigma Golf Tournament.

Frequently Asked Questions

Who should use What’s Up SafeHouse?

The app is designed to help young people 11-24. But, the short answer is anyone. What’s Up SafeHouse is available for anyone in need of emotional support, at any time. While the line is intended for crisis situations, you do not need to be in crisis to use the service. We also encourage you to use the app if you have concerns about a friend or loved one who may also need crisis intervention.

COMMON CONCERNS: relationship issues, bullying, peer pressure, parent-child conflicts, LGBT, drugs, anxiety, depression, suicide or any other issue they want to discuss.

Is there really a live person on the other end texting back?

Yes! Counselors are fully licensed by the State, and local to your community. This allows our team to help you through your crisis and to direct you to the resources you’ll need next. That is what makes this program so unique.  All the help provided through the texting line is catered to the individual texting at the moment. Nothing is computer generated.

After sending your text to 844-204-0880, you will receive an automatic reply within seconds, then a reply from a live counselor within minutes.

What makes the line anonymous?

All texts are routed through a cloaking server that encrypts the data being sent so that the phone number is not known to the therapist on call. Simply put, we couldn’t get the information if we wanted to. Phone number and location are encrypted.

Will the texts be confidential?

Confidentiality and anonymity are the most important aspects of our program. This allows young people to feel comfortable reaching out for help. We will not have access to any personal information unless the texter decides to share that information and all communication is confidential. The information that is gathered will only be used to help get further help for someone in crisis. The information will not be stored at the site level.

What if someone is saying they want to hurt themselves?

As trained mental health professionals, we are equipped with the knowledge of what to ask and say during a crisis situation. We will ask appropriate questions to evaluate the situation and offer crisis intervention. Law enforcement and crisis response teams will be contacted when necessary. Due to the anonymous nature of the program the texter would need to volunteer necessary information for dispatch.

What if someone just needs to talk and is not in crisis?

Aside from crisis intervention, our trained and licensed therapists are available to talk with young people on issues they may face every day. Issues such as parent-child conflicts, peer pressure, LGBT issues, drugs, bullying, etc. are very common and are treated with the amount of care given to our crisis texters.

We are also able to provide resources to each texter based on their immediate need. By asking simple, non-identifying questions, we can provide them resources in their geographic area should they need further support.

Why do you think young people will use texting over phone calls or in-person care?

Safehouse has worked with youth and young adults in Riverside County for 25 years. We have an excellent relationship with young people and have gotten direct feedback, through our programs and youth focus groups, that this is a service that young people will use as their preferred method of communication.

Young people are not always able to make a phone call. This could be due to parental constraints, peer constraints, or they are just afraid to speak out loud what they have going on. Texting is seen as a more informal form of communication and young people are more likely to text what they are thinking rather than say it out loud. In this ever increasing digital age where social media and texting are king, Safehouse feels young people are more likely to reach out for help if they have to do little more than text for immediate help.

What happens if you get texts from counties outside of Riverside?

There is no discernible way for us to tell where the text is coming from. We will treat each and every text that comes in with the same amount of care. If a texter would like resources for a surrounding county, we are equipped with hotline numbers to refer them to so that they may get the additional assistance the need.

How is this program being funded?

Community Partners:

SafeHouse is a 501c3. Funds are raised from private donations, grants, fundraising events and various Prevention and Early Intervention contracts with Riverside County Department of Mental Health. Safehouse has a full-time grant writer that works continuously on securing funding so that we may continue to help youth in crisis throughout Riverside County.

Safehouse has successfully been providing services to youth in crisis in Riverside County for over 25 years.

Tips for Parents

How do I know if my child is depressed?

For signs and symptoms of adolescent depression, read this  Parents Guide to Depression.

What can I do if my child is anxious or seems nervous a lot?

For  information on adolescent Anxiety, read this comprehensive article on  Anxiety Disorders. 

My child is struggling with keeping up with school demands, how can I help them?

Demands from school seem to have increased over the years. Teens are preparing for college at a younger age, which can place higher demands on them. One thing to realize is that not all children/ teens are created equal. Even children from the same family/ home environment have different personalities and ability levels that contribute to academic functioning. Here are some things you can do, on a daily basis, to encourage your child/ teen to perform their best, and ensure they are also taking care of their mental functioning.

  • Check in with your child/ teen, daily, to see what they are working on, what they have for homework, and what projects they may have coming up. Creating an ongoing dialogue with your child/ teen helps you know what they are doing in school and also keeps their academic priorities at the forefront of their mind. This also shows your child/ teen that you are interested in what they are doing and not just the grades they are bringing home.
  • Help your child/ teen get, and stay, organized with their academic demands. This can look like a calendar on the wall, using their phone calendar, a day planner where they can write in due dates and needs for school, or a piece of paper they keep in the front of their school binder. This process can start a conversation between you and your child/ teen about school and how they are feeling about the demands they face.
  • Ask your child/ teen, daily, how their day was. This is a great opportunity for y our child/ teen to vent, and a great opportunity for you to speak with your child about what they are doing on a daily basis.
  • When possible, maintain weekly or monthly contact with teachers or school administrators about your child/ teen’s progress. If they are falling short in any one area, this is an opportunity for you to get them the help they may need to catch up, and decrease anxiety.
  • If your child/ teen is preparing for college, open a dialogue about their dreams, desired colleges, fears about college, and steps they need to take to prepare for the admissions process. By helping them create a timeline of steps they need to take to prepare for college, you can help them visualize one step at a time and organize themselves to the point that they feel good about the process.
  • If school demands seem to be too much for your child/ teen, consider talking with teachers and school administrators in a structured meeting to determine steps that can be taken to help with your child/ teen’s struggles. By organizing a meeting, you role model for your child a respectable and organized way of communicating. You also let the school know that you are interested and involved in your child/ teen’s academic success.

“Blue Whale” suicide pact and what you need to know now.

“Blue Whale” is a relatively new, online, suicide pact originating in Russia. It is a way for a person, or group of people, to send children/ teens on a path of self-destruction, ending in suicide, as directed by an unknown individual over the internet.

“Blue Whale” should be taken very seriously and if you notice any of the signs that your child/ teen may be participating in this challenge, you should talk to your child/ teen about this and seek help for them immediately.

Signs your child/ teen may be participating in, or curious about, the “Blue Whale” challenge:

  • Carvings or unexplained cuts on their arms or legs.
  • Drawings or sketches of a blue whale where there seemed to be no prior interest in the animal.
  • Unexplained messages or writings in Russian.
  • Unexplained, odd, out-of-character photos on your child/ teen’s social media accounts or phone.

More information on the Blue Whale Challenge 

What are the signs of suicide and what can I do to help my child?

Suicide is defined as death caused by self-directed injurious behavior with intent to die as a result of the behavior. A Suicide attempt is a non-fatal, self-directed, potentially injurious behavior with intent to die as a result of the behavior. A suicide attempt might not result in injury. Suicidal ideation refers to thinking about, considering, or planning suicide.

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, Suicide was the third leading cause of death among individuals between the ages of 10 and 14, and the second leading cause of death among individuals between the ages of 15 and 34.

Some children/ teens may be more verbal about their desire to complete or attempt suicide, but not all come out and speak about it. Here are some signs and symptoms you can look for in your child/ teen:

  • Talking or joking about committing suicide
  • Saying things like, “I’d be better off dead,” “I wish I could disappear forever,” or “There’s no way out.”
  • Speaking positively about death or romanticizing dying (“If I died, people might love me more”)
  • Writing stories and poems about death, dying, or suicide
  • Engaging in reckless behavior or having a lot of accidents resulting in injury
  • Giving away prized possessions
  • Saying goodbye to friends and family as if for the last time
  • Seeking out weapons, pills, or other ways to kill themselves

How can I help my child/ teen who I think is in crisis?

  • Focus on listening, not lecturing.Resist any urge to criticize or pass judgment once your teenager begins to talk. The important thing is that your child is communicating. You’ll do the best by simply letting your teen know that you’re there for them, fully and unconditionally.
  • Be gentle but persistent. Don’t give up if they shut you out at first. Talking about depression can be very tough for teens. Even if they want to, they may have a hard time expressing what they’re feeling. Be respectful of your child’s comfort level while still emphasizing your concern and willingness to listen.
  • Acknowledge their feelings. Don’t try to talk your teen out of depression, even if their feelings or concerns appear silly or irrational to you. Well-meaning attempts to explain why “things aren’t that bad” will just come across as if you don’t take their emotions seriously. To make them feel understood and supported, simply acknowledging the pain and sadness they are experiencing can go a long way in making them feel understood and supported.
  • Trust your gut.If your teen claims nothing is wrong but has no explanation for what is causing the depressed behavior, you should trust your instincts. If your teen doesn’t open up to you, consider turning to a trusted third party: a school counselor, favorite teacher, or mental health professional. The important thing is to get them talking to someone.

If you suspect your child is thinking about, or planning, suicide, it is crucial that you get them help immediately.

  • You, or your child/ teen, can text What’s Up SafeHouse 24/7 for immediate crisis intervention.
  • Remove all means and methods of harm. Examples of these are: accessible knives, razors, pills (any kind), ropes, shoelaces, belts, truck tie downs, exercise bands, bungee cords, guns, swords, broken glass, and/ or anything you feel your child/ teen may be able to use to harm themselves.
  • Provide oversight to your child/ teen. If you are physically present, they know you are making sure they are safe.

My child/ teen spends a lot of time online. How can I keep them safe?

It seems that more and more communication between children/ teens and their friends is done online. This can be a great way for children/ teens to stay connected, updated on social events and school work, and a great way to maintain a connection with one another. Unfortunately, online communication can also be harmful to children/ teens. If you just watch the news, for any length of time, you will see story after story of cyber bullying, child predators, stories of suicide pacts, human trafficking luring, and much Here are a few tips for knowing what your child/ teen is doing on social media:

  • Know who your child/ teen is talking to. This may sound much easier than it actually is, but, get involved and ask questions. How do they know this person? How did they meet this person? What do they talk about? Has this person ever made them feel “creeped out”? Has this person ever asked to meet them in person? Has this person ever asked for pictures
  • How many friends/ followers do they have? Children/ teens think it’s cool to have lots of followers. The problem is, this is a way for strangers to access your child/ teen’s life. So much information can be gained by following a child/ teen online. For example, a stranger can learn where the child/ teen attends school or church, where they hang out with their friends, who their friends are, where they live, who their family members are, parent work schedules, etc. Child predators are very crafty at gaining access to your child/ teen’s life. Children/ teens are vulnerable because they think that everyone who contacts them is who they say they are and that no one would actually do them harm. By talking to your child/ teen about online safety, you can help them stay safe.
  • Install a firewall: A firewall is an electronic barrier that blocks unauthorized access to your computer.
  • Create complex passwords and encourage your child/ teen to never share them with anyone other than you.
  • Set usage guidelines with your child/ teen. Giving them unlimited access to the internet can cause issues in more than one area of their life. Give them time limits and set parameters on the types of websites and social media sites they are permitted to use.
  • Snapchat: Snapchat is a social media photo sharing site that allows people to send photos and videos that disappear after a certain amount of time. Over the last year or so, Snapchat has added many features, such as fun filters, chat, and video filters, that make it fun for children/ teens to use. Snapchat can be fun for children/ teens, but it is a great tool for child predators. They have recently added a feature that allows anyone to know exactly where the user is. We suggest changing the settings so that this is not enabled, to ensure safety for your child/ teen.

What is 2-1-1?

2-1-1 by the United Way is a way for anyone to access help with just about any need that may come up. By dialing 2-1-1 from any phone you will be connected to a call center that can direct you to a social service agency or non-profit organization that can help you meet your needs. This service is available 24/7, and is free of charge.

Needs you may want information about: Emergency shelter, food pantries, day care, rent/ utility assistance, mental health services, employment services, drug/ alcohol rehabilitation, domestic abuse services, and disability resources, to name a few.

What is CVHIP?

Coachella Valley Health Information Portal (CVHIP) is a portal to resources specifically in the Coachella Valley. Created by the Desert Healthcare District, this tool is a comprehensive way to find information related to maintaining optimum health. This includes mental health services, food services, health related needs, and youth related needs, to name a few.


Tips for Young People

Drug and Alcohol Use:

Young people are faced with increased pressure, from friends, society, media, and sometimes parents, to use drugs and alcohol. Below are some tips to remember when you are thinking of using drugs and/or alcohol:

  • It’s “all natural”, what’s the big deal anyway?: At one point in time, maybe back before the mid 1970’s this would have been a true statement. Unfortunately, today, drugs are mixed with so many chemicals to increase their “bulk”, thus increasing money for the dealer/ manufacturer. Drugs are also mixed with chemicals that are extremely harmful to the body, to increase the feeling of “being high” without having to rely on the actual drug itself. For example, it’s common for MDMA, or ecstasy, to be mixed with rat poison or crushed glass.
  • But weed IS natural!: This may be true, but the effect of marijuana goes much deeper than it being “natural” or not. The problem lies in that marijuana can affect the growing and developing brain by changing the physical and chemical make-up of it. This can lead to lifelong issues such as: anxiety, depression, psychosis, addiction, and attention deficit disorders, to name a few. We must protect our growing and developing brain as much as possible so that we can grow to be healthy and complete adults. Read how Marijuana is not a harmless substance here
  • Why is alcohol so bad for teens but adults can drink it?: Alcohol, when not used in moderation, is harmful for anyone. According to the National institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, 30% of 15 year-olds admit to using alcohol at least once in their life. 13.4% of 12-20 year olds admit to drinking within the past month. Binge drinking- consuming more than 4 drinks in one sitting- can have severe consequences. Much like with marijuana and other drug use, alcohol can affect the development and maturation of the growing brain. In addition to brain development issues, alcohol use can lead to injuries, sexual assault, and death- including death from car crashes where alcohol is a factor.

Every 15 Minutes is a video produced, in collaboration with the Every 15 Minutes Program, that illustrates the very real dangers of alcohol use and driving. Visit Every Fifteen Minutes for more information on this program.

Smoking, e-cigs, hookah, and dip:

Smoking, and other tobacco use, can cause heart disease, breathing problems, cancer, fertility problems, decreased immune functioning, arthritis, bone density issues, tooth and gum issues, and stroke. In addition to these health effects, smoking and other tobacco use can lead to premature aging by increasing wrinkles on the face at a much younger age, yellowing teeth, yellowing fingers, the odor of smoke in clothing and hair, and can cause you to miss out on events in life because of the time it takes to “go on a smoke break”.

  • Electronic Cigarettes: “e-cigs” are no less harmful than smoking cigarettes. We do not know what effects e-cigs may have on overall health because they have not been around for long enough to gather meaningful data. It is important to note that there was a time, not that long ago, that smoking cigarettes was considered fashionable, cool, and not dangerous. Much how people view electronic cigarettes now.
  • Hookah: Smoking tobacco through a Hookah pipe is no less dangerous than smoking cigarettes, electronic cigarettes, and/ or smokeless tobacco. Research may suggest that smoking tobacco specifically designed for Hookah may be more dangerous.  Hookah FAQ  
  • Smokeless Tobacco Products: Also called “snuff” and “dip”, is equally as dangerous as cigarettes and e-cigs in that it can cause cancer, breathing problems, heart disease, fertility issues, nicotine poisoning, and stroke. Not to mention the smell it leaves on your breath, the yellowing of the teeth, the spit cups lying around, and loose tobacco on your teeth.                Health Effects of Smokeless Tobacco 

Healthy Relationships:

Adolescents and young adulthood is a time when we start to develop a stronger interest in dating and relationships. It’s important to know what a healthy relationship looks like, and to know that you deserve one! Below are some things to remember about healthy, and unhealthy, relationships:

Any relationship should be a way to enhance your life, they should not make you anxious, depressed, or like you have no control.

A relationship should not be your number one priority. So many things should come before a relationship, such as, school, family, friends, work, and being a well-balanced person on your own.

Relationships should never include physical, mental, or sexual violence. Examples of each are:

  • Physical: hitting, pushing, punching, slapping, restraining a person, locking a person in a room/ home, kicking, and/ or shoving.
  • Mental/ psychological: Screaming at a person, ignoring for the purpose of inflicting emotional pain, name calling, shaming, isolating from friends/ family, denying abuse when it is clearly occurring,
  • Sexual: Forced sexual contact, guilted into having sexual contact, forcing a person to engage in sexual acts that they feel uncomfortable doing, rape, forceful use of objects against a person’s will during sexual activity, not stopping when asked.

If you find yourself in any one of these situations, we are here to help. Text us 24/7. Its Anonymous, free, and safe. You can also visit Love is Respect for more information on teen dating violence.

Are you in a healthy relationship?  Take this Quiz to find out. 

Are you a good partner?  Take this Quiz to find out.

If you think you may be an abuser in a relationship, it is not too late to change and become a healthy and loving partner. Often this means working on yourself and knowing that you are worth more than being an abuser towards someone you love and care about.

LGBT Support and Resources:

It is important to know that regardless of how you identify, you are important and no one else can take that away from you. If you are having trouble with your sexual identity or gender identity, please reach out for help. Text a licensed therapist through What’s Up SafeHouse to talk through some of your struggles. Other resources:

  • The Trevor Project is an excellent resource for LGBT youth and their support persons.
  • The Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Center  is one of the biggest and best LGBT centers in the nation. They offer services such as housing support, HIV/ AIDS services, transgender services, youth and young adult services, and online support services.
  • The Center Palm Springs Is the local LGBT center for the Coachella Valley and desert communities. They offer numerous supportive programs for all need levels.
  • True Evolution Is an organization in Riverside County focusing on the health and well-being of those who identify as part of the LGBT community. There is a heavy focus on HIV/ AIDS and living healthy.
  • Safe Schools Desert Cities works directly with the Gay Straight Alliances (GSAs) at 14 high schools and two middle schools in the desert area. This organization does so much in the desert communities to help young people who identify as part of the LGBT community

Yearly Report

WHAT’S UP? SAFEHOUSE Operation SafeHouse Summary Report (March 2018)


For more information about What’s Up SafeHouse app and Crisis Textline text us at 844.204.0880 OR contact Cheryl Hunter

Email: chunter@operationsafehouse.org / Phone: 760.343.3211