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April 27th, 2009
STEPS - Using Technology to Find Troubled Teens

* Teen STEPS is now open to the public, no access code needed! Visit Teen STEPS @

That’s the theory behind STEPS – Screening, Treatment, and Education to Promote Strength – a first-of-its-kind virtual mental health initiative for teens and their parents.

Created by New York University’s Christopher P. Lucas, an Associate Professor of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, STEPS aims to reduce risk of suicide and school violence through online education, self-help and screening. The voluntary, school-based program features a Web site for both teens and parents accessible at school or at home. On each site, visitors can find scientific information, chat around the clock with online clinicians and with each other, and participate in a confidential suicide questionnaire.
Since its launch last fall in two New York high schools, STEPS is already showing signs of success – with membership numbers nearly doubling. Lucas says he hopes the program will attract at-risk teens not only with its wealth of information, but also with its edgy style and interactive features.

“STEPS is really the result of seeing what works and what does not work in the suicide prevention field and really trying to leverage the power of technology and the way that teenagers relate to each other,” says Lucas.

While STEPS is currently being studied in only five schools in New York State, Lucas and his colleagues hope  to introduce STEPS to at least a dozen high schools by the end of this year.  They believe that successful intervention with teens who are at risk can be achieved by improving the mental health of an entire student population.

“The goal at the end of this is to get people to seek help,” Lucas says.

  • marsha greenfield

    how do you get an access code. the pbs show made it look like anyone can use this web site..i wanted to share it with my son

  • Detra

    My name is Detra and I will be 40 years old next month. I have suffered from depression since I was 13. A little later on in life I was diagnosed with PTSD anxiety and bi polar 1. I have two kids ages 17 and 9 my 9 year old is a boy and I have been dealing with issues with his behavior for two years now. He throws fits when he does not get his way and has to have the last word this is at school and at home. Now I am not in denial of his behavior however i feel it is necessary that I have him evaluated just to make sure he is not suffering from depression are something more serious. I need to get signed on but they asked for a access code and I dont have one can anyone help me with the access code

  • Nicole Annoymous

    It’s because they don’t actually care about the teens. It is all about money. Deppression and suicide are something people can exploit. It’s very likely that schools that will participate in this program are going to have to pay for a membership to the site. Just like any other educational rescource that “caring” people develop.
    ~A 17 Year old Senior that isn’t afraid to say it like it is

  • Detra

    marsha I am in the same bolt if you find out this information access code e-mail me at

  • Dalton

    I was really hopeing to check out this website after just watching your amazing show.. ive found that i have become very depressed latly for alot of reasons and i just would really like to see this website to learn more about myself, i really wish to become a psychological therapist, i have helped people in my life and now maybe i am the one who needs help. Defiantly helping people is taking a toll on my life, especially with my experiences in my past. I just wish i could see the STEPS website and read more about everything, really.

  • Angelo

    Would like to register but I don’t have an access code. How do I acquire one?

  • detra

    Well that’s sad Nicole I care and have compassion for all people. Why did they advertise if this was bogas?

  • detra

    Dalton how old are you and have you been diagnosed with mental illness,if not maybe you should. I will say a special prayer for you tonight

  • jenn

    how am i supposed to get “help” or or w/e it’s done here if it is impossible to register. hence, i know nothing of any “access code”.

  • Bronte


  • sissy

    I would really like to know how to access the site Im 21 years old and have been depressed for years now i seen the show and thought i would take a look figues, just my luck

  • Bronte

    hang in there sissy, we’ll get it!!!

  • gloria

    UM..I’m from grenada and i just watched your show,now i tried to register for the STEPS but I donthave an access code….whats up with that…I’m 14 and sometimes i get really depressed and i thought that could have helped me butyou guys didnt’ give an access code so……i guess i’ll just have to end it because i can’t take it any more it’s too much

  • Jamez

    I want an access code plz.

  • sissy

    only students of rockland county and orange county and their parents can join it says it on the f & A page

  • Bronte

    where is this f & a page?

  • Chell

    As a single mother of a 13 yr old boy who has physical, mental, and emotional problems I was hoping that this site could help me to help him. His school is not going to want to get involved. Earlier this week a kid was tormenting him, he gave the kid an ultimatium “Leaving me alone or I’ll kill you” His school gave him 1hr of detention! I talked to him. He is on meds. He sees doctors on a regular basis. He had TSS workers in the past, they gave up on him because he “didn’t progress at a satisfactory rate.” Now his doctor is recommending a charter school next year. I need more!

  • cindy

    STEPS is run by the New York University Child Study Center. It’s FREE for families in participating schools thanks to a grant from New York State sponsored by State Senator Thomas P. Morahan. How irresponsible could PBS be to present such a program, knowing the high number of teens and their families who could benefit from such a program. Seems like the only teens this is suited for are from a specific school district in New York

  • cindy

    BRONTE: here in the link…

  • Sean

    This documentary completely ignored what is possibly the most significant cause of depression among teens: abuse by their parents. When are the “people” (had to self-censor; not allowed to be truthful) in the government, MEDIA, and society as a whole going to wake up and address the myriad of laws in the United States that reduce children to personal property? Why didn’t the documentary mention that children are afraid to speak up because the police wouldn’t do anything about it anyway, and that it would only make the parents more angry? Why didn’t they mention the fact that virtually any parents can hire men to “escort” their “troubled teen” (what exactly does this generic, overused term mean anyway?) to a foreign country (Google “Tranquility Bay”), never necessarily to be seen again, and without the bureaucrats in Washington pressing any charges? I think that kids (it seems like there are a few of them on here) have a right to know what their parents can do to them at any given moment (the men wake you up in the middle of the night, without prior notification). Of course, we’re talking about the United States, where the prevailing theory is that children (teenagers in particular; doesn’t the very word send chills down your spine?) are mere hamsters in comparison to their parental overlords. Do any of you guys know that corporal punishment is still occurring in public schools (not that it should be okay in private ones) in certain states? Do you know that the United States is the only country besides Somalia not to ratify the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child? Do you even know what that is? Of course not, because American society would rather blame “those damn teenagers” than the people who are legally entitled to do anything short of actually murder their kids. Hope that wasn’t too long, and I apologize for the excessive parentheses…

  • Tim

    our 20 year old daughter is bi-polar and has taken our family for a hell ride, we need any help we can get to put us on track and not fall apart, she goes from highs to lows in same day sometimes with in hours, spends all her money and hides under the covers, has been in treatment long term 10 months and comes back like she is good then all goes to crap, her 13 year old sister has had enough and is growing away from her. All we want is heathly family and to be back to normal. Any body have a clue to whats next?

  • MomOf2Teens

    My daughter watched this program w/me & she expressed wanting to check out the Steps website. How irresponsible of PBS to broadcast this program when only a SELECT portion of NY teenagers/parents can even gain access to the site?!! UNBELIEVABLE & SO WRONG!! ALL AMERICANS SHOULD BE GIVEN THE SAME EQUAL OPPORTUNITIES & IT’S QUITE PREJUDICIAL & WRONG THAT THE ONLY ONES TO GAIN ACCESS TO SUCH A WONDERFUL SITE ARE THE ONES WHOSE SCHOOLS WOULD LIKE TO PARTICIPATE!! So so sad. Thanks PBS for letting my teenage daughter down!! I hope you’re proud.

  • mara




  • mara

    I think that this site shouldnt just be for specific counties, it should be for everyone, what is the access code?

  • Cindy

    What is the access code?

  • mara

    i keep asking what the access code is, im 16..i happened to be flipping through the channels and hit pbs “cry for help” was on,…..

    i dont wanna get to descriptive,

    what is the access codE?

  • Kristin Dietz Trautman

    Thanks everyone for your interest in STEPS. We certainly wish everyone who is interested could have immediate access to the program, but for right now, a grant from New York State allowed us to pilot the program in high schools in Rockland and Orange counties in New York. Schools in those counties that wish to participate should contact us. There is contact info and other information about the program on

    We are very much hoping to expand the program to other areas and are exploring ways to do that. In the meantime, the NYU Child Study Web site has great resources for families: Also, check the “Resources” tab above for additional information and ways to get help.

  • John in Ohio

    I would like the access code too … figures it would only be in the NY area. I have a 9 year old and 6 year old …. my 9 year old pretty much tells us every day she wants to die …. she is relentlessly getting tormented by the kids at school … of course the school says there is no problem …. no surprise, if they had to admit it then they would have to start so program(s) that would cost them some money …. I need help … my daughter needs help … she has been diaignoised (sp?) with mild ADD …. her grades are slipping …. we have her on medicine and in conciling (sp?) … what does the school tell us? she is just an average kid … ok then explain to me how she can go from A’s and B’s in the 1st quarter to B’s, C’s and D’s now and hates her teacher, hates school, and wants to die … I scream BULLYING!!! it is horible the things she says the kids are saying to her …. at 9 I didn’t have a clue what some of the words ment. …. just because we are a school of exellence we don’t get any help … the school councelor is worthless as our child tells us she is basicly blaming her for what the kids are doing ….

  • Donna Hoef

    How can you make this site available to all asap? Everyone wants access code. So do I. Children and parents are in need of this resource. Get funding. Open it up.
    There is a great need!

  • Nathan

    It wasn’t irresponsible of PBS to provide the information about Steps. It should have been more clear about who can access the website. Please see Kristin Dietz Trautman comments above. There needs to be more schools looking out for the welfare of are children. Zero tolerance for bullying. End victimization now. Thank you PBS.

  • Donna

    Thanks for allowing my daughter to think she found a site that would help her. You NEVER should have broddcasted “Cry For Help” if the web site wasn’t going to be available to everyone, it’s people like you at PBS who really have NO clue about mental health issues, or they wouldn’t have broadcast this.

  • Lane

    Since the Steps website is not available to everyone, I would like to find some available website teenager might find help. Let’s all do some research and post our findings. Steps may not be available, but there could be something use out there!

  • Lane

    WOW! :) That’s what I get for watching TV and attempting to type at the same time. If that previous post was confusing to you, here’s the revised version:

    Since the Steps website is not available to everyone, I would like to find some available websites that teenagers might find helpful. Let’s all do some research and post our findings. Steps may not be available, but there could be something else useful out there!

  • Emily

    i would like the access code… the program nmade it sound so easyto get helpit was oinspiring, i just tryed to make an account and i need an access code first… plz help?

  • Janet

    I watched this documentary with great personal interest. I’ve been extremely depressed since about age 13-14, I’m now 50. I have one son who has inherited this problem. I am just now getting relief with the right medications, which must be finely tuned. I have many times contemplated suicide just to be free of the mental anguish. I wish that I had been on medication when this first began, but it was not understood in those days. I am a proponent of medication b/c I had no idea what it felt like to be relaxed, no idea how to turn off the terrible feeling of impending doom. If you are feeling this as a young person or adult, talk to someone, preferably someone with some knowledge of depression and the seriousness of it. If you go to church, talk to your youth director, if not, talk to a trusted adult, take a friend with you if you feel uncomfortable. The Bible says God knows every hair on our head and He loves us more than we can comprehend. Ask God to help you. As far as bullying, talk to your school counselor, talk to the principal, talk to the president of the student body, find a trusted teacher, just don’t keep it to yourself, If you have a problem with depression, you could possibly have ADD or ADHD as a coexisting condition, in which case you, yourself may have already developed a “reputation” with the teachers. Again, find someone who will really listen to you, a youth director in a church is an excellent place to start. There is usually at least one teacher or coach, most times more, who really do care about kids. Go on line, there are some resources listed at the top right hand corner of this page, or maybe a page back. I clicked on these and there was some helpful info there. The very best advice I can give you is to go to God and ask Him to help you, He’s always available 24/7.

  • Violet

    STEPS is a great improvement on the programs such as Teenscreen that just hand out a questionnaire for kids to fill in. It’s geared towards kids of today, using technology as a medium to reach us. I just hope that lack of funding doesn’t mean that the project ends – a common cause in today’s world for things like this to disappear. We need this .. our kids need this!

  • lolie

    i would like the access code too

  • angie

    I heard is a great website. its for everyone any where, you dont need an access code.

  • tina

    how does one get this for a high school near you?

  • Paula Dixon

    I too would love to get the access code, how do you get it? I took this one step further and I sent this to the school cousellor of our highschool, I think that it’s that important. It is my belief that every child has a right to live with dignity, and have positive feelings about themselves, Our soceity has created so many barriers to self esteem. We can’t cure the world but we can definately help our own kids. If We all did that we would reach a whole soceity. Our kids are worth it.

  • Eileen German

    I think that if PBS puts a show on TV, then everyone in the viewing area should be able to gain access to it, otherwise, don’t air it.

  • Isabella

    i know its so silly if they air it we should be able to acess it

  • Chelsea

    I agree with the consensus of the comments. It was highly irresponsible to broadcast this information without clearly explaining that the program “STEPS” is only available to some areas of NY. I sincerely hope that those who are looking for help find it and that those who have ideas share them. I also believe that it would be in the stations best interest to give a formal apology to the viewers and members of opb. It would also be responsible to give alternative options and ideas for help. Please dont give up if you are looking for help, it is out there.

  • Debra

    You have to check with you childs school and see if they are participate in the study. They should give you an access code; this is just what I understood when I started reading on this a little more. I too, would like to access this sight and will be calling my sons school today.

  • Susie Clark

    Hat’s off to PBS for opening my eyes. I did not realize just how many teens go through such deep feelings of depression. There is always help. Sometimes a friend’s mom, or a faith-based teenage program can help by just listening to you at first. Good programs such as STEPS are still new and being tested. The good things are worth waiting for. Hang in there you young people!!

  • Gregory

    Ms. Trautman,

    When you say expand to “other areas”, would that include middle schools as well as other locations? Or is the STEPS program targeted at high school students only?

  • richard manning

    I am very saded that PBS would air such a sensitive subject and make people think that they to can get help for there young ones.Steps sounds like a great program and it is a shame that all young people cannot get access to something that could help them.I got my daughter in front of the computer and told her i have something that might help you. I explained what it was and she was excited about it and when we are not able to accsess it we were both disapointed.This is a progam that all should be able to acsess.

  • Turning Winds

    I’ve checked out the site and registered. Helpful information for parents. Thanks.

  • troubledteens

    Troubled teens camps assist teens to leave bad behavior with an efficient approach to disturb and stress teens. There are many teens development programs towards good influence and help them to go for right path.

  • kathy Novak

    Have the problems with Accessing the site been fixed?? I am a therapist and find the above 50 comments most disturbing.

  • Kristin Dietz Trautman

    As the Associate Director of STEPS, I just want to let everyone know that we are working very hard to make the program widely available. As I am sure you all know, funding for public health programs is particularly tight these days and our initial grant from NY State to pilot the program has expired. If anyone wants to help us secure funding and increase access to STEPS, please contact us at We will also welcome teen and parent consultants as we plan for expansion and making the program the best it can be.

  • Brant Umi

    It is not PBS’ fault that the STEPS program is unavailable to everyone. PBS’ function is to report objective information which they did in “Cry for Help”. It is the the responsibility of the individual, be it a teenage or a parent of one, to seek mental health services. Those services are available in each community to some degree or another, and in some states better than in others. Also, the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI at which was mentioned in the program offers free sevices to affected individuals and their loved ones. Teen suicide, and suicide in general, is a serious problem that requires active involvement from as many people as possible by lobbying for better mental health services in our communities and by volunteering when able to help others.

  • Julie Kingston

    I have not watched the documentary but have been reading peoples comments and think it is safe to say that there are many parents and young people struggling with not only issues related to suicide but a variety of mental health related issues. It is wonderful to see so many wanting to connect with others, with helping organizations, with resources in an effort to help themselves or others. Social media offers people the ability to ask questions and seek advise when they may not otherwise do so. Many of the comments have referenced sites and pages that can point someone in the right direction. Do not forget, there are help lines, support groups, professionals and emergency rooms in most communities…we need to make sure that we access the resources that we have available. As parents, we also need to come together to address the issues that increase risk for suicide, substance misuse, and other mental health issues…bullying, underlying substance use issues, depression underage drinking and drugging, prescription drug misuse, abuse, neglect, …the list is endless. We need to reach out to one anothers and learn the signs of depression, of suicide risk, of drug/alcohol use…we need to take responsibility for our own behaviours and to learn how to help ourselves and children. The STEPS Program seems excellent, however until we all have access to this or similar supports we cannot afford to sit and wait..we need to get active.

  • Germaine Clinkscales

    I am a high school teacher at Denby High School, Detroit Public Schools and I would like some information about the STEPS program.

  • Tomika Diprima

    I have a family room that is lower than rest of house. It is a concrete slab. This room is cold from the knees down. It appears that your product should help.Questions:

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