On the weekend, over 240 guests and supporters joined TELL at the Italian Embassy as we kicked off our year long 50th anniversary celebration of supporting the community’s mental health needs and saving lives.
We would like to thank His Excellency Gianluigi Benedetti, the Ambassador of Italy, and Her Imperial Highness, The Crown Princess Akishino, our keynote speaker – along with all the guests, sponsors, and supporters who attended the evening.
Fifty years ago on April 1st, 1973, the TELL Lifeline took its first call under a three-month test trial and has never stopped supporting the community, connecting with over 350,000 users across the years. Since its conception, the goal has always been to offer a 24/7 crisis support service to the English speaking community in Japan. This year, the Lifeline has taken a big step forward in that goal, going from two shifts a day (8 hrs) in 1973 to offering around the clock coverage from 0900 on Saturdays to 2300 on Mondays, along with phone and chat support every day. Now, with our clinical services, EAP, and outreach programs, TELL is much more than a Lifeline.
Over the next twelve months, in our newsletter, we will celebrate the achievements of TELL, highlighting some of our milestones and legends.
The first legend we would like to recognize is Miriam Olsen.
In 1971, after the founding of Inochi no Denwa (the Japanese Lifeline Service), Miriam and George Olsen started discussions with Inochi no Denwa about the feasibility of a similar service for the English-speaking community in Japan. Thanks to the support of five English-language churches in Tokyo—Franciscan Chapel Center, St. Alban’s Anglican Church, St. Paul’s Lutheran Church, Tokyo Baptist Church, and Tokyo Union Church—who agreed to sponsor a three-month trial of Tokyo English Language Life Line, the first training program began in October 1972. 50 Support workers were trained along with 13 supervisors, and TELL opened its Lifeline phone support on April 1st, 1973, with Miriam Olsen acting as TELL’s first Director. The Lifeline has been there every day since, helping people to make it to the next day and not be alone in those moments of need.