Teens can log on to ask questions about weight and emotions.
A $400,000 grant from Pennsylvania’s Department of Health is supporting a new online destination for teens worried about weight issues.
Here’s a sample of the posts to the teencentral.net site:
Redbone, 13 – Redbone is worrying about losing weight before a trip to the beach.
Stephanie, 16 – Stephanie wanted to be noticed on the dance team so badly, she started losing weight. Before she knew it, she was off the team and in a hospital.
Pepsicola, 14 – Pepsicola is being teased by family members because of his weight.
State money helped create a new section on TeenCentral.net where young people write in and get advice from a counselor. High school senior Christina is a spokesteen for the site. She says teens can log on in coming weeks as the holidays bring families together over food.
Christina: That can be very comforting for a lot of people, but it can also be a lot of pressure for teens to eat a certain way or do a certain thing. Like is my aunt going to say something if I take another roll?
The Web site includes all the standard information on exercise and nutrition. But Christina, who’s 17, says it also helps teens deal with emotions.
Christina: Sometimes it’s not about what we are eating, or like, what we are doing. It’s about, like, what people are making us feel and what’s eating us.
Psychologist and web site director Julius Licata says every teen post, and counselor response, is screened by a mental health professional.
Each post is answered within 24 hours. That’s a much slower pace compared to social networking sites where teens send instant messages back and forth. But Licata thinks TeenCentral’s screening system ensures that students get sound advice and feel safe to share their stories.
Licata: Know that your privacy is respected and that it is truly anonymous.