According to The World Health Organization (WHO), 1-in-4 people in the world will be affected by mental illness in their lifetime, and over 300 million live with depression, a number that’s increased by 18% from 2005-2015. In the U.S. alone, 55 million people experience mental illness annually, and yet, even in high-income nations, nearly 50% suffer without any form of help. This lack of access to support also disproportionately affects low-income, minority, and rural communities.
From depression and anxiety to sexual abuse and trafficking to homicidal and suicidal ideation, Crisis Text Line is a powerful first line of defense against a lack of access to mental healthcare. Using mobile technology, machine learning, and a large distributed network of volunteers, Crisis Text Line has become a leader in effective crisis intervention. Using a proprietary platform, they triage users to address those at greatest risk first, enlisting over 25,000 volunteers they have trained to provide care safely and anonymously. With Audacious’ support over the next two-and- a-half years, Crisis Text Line will provide counseling to anyone who needs it in English, Spanish, Portuguese, French, and Arabic. They will expand their base of volunteers to 150,000 Crisis Counselors allowing them to process one billion messages, extend coverage to one third of the globe, and provide support to 12.5 million more people.
To deliver their innovative mental health support service in five languages, Crisis Text Line will expand in key areas. They will increase Crisis Counselor capacity, establish referral resources, and expand their tech infrastructure. Through partnerships with existing local organizations, they will incorporate culturally relevant practices and raise awareness about the service. Crisis Text Line is currently available for SMS, iMessage, and Facebook Messenger, and will be accessible through RCS and WhatsApp soon. To date, Crisis Text Line has exchanged more than 140 million messages on its platform, making it the steward of the world's largest known dataset on mental health; they will leverage this corpus to inform smart policy and the future of mental health.
Over the last six years, Crisis Text Line has deescalated high-risk mental health emergencies, rapidly connected those in need to critical services, and saved thousands of lives. By sharing their technology with partner organizations, Crisis Text Line has been able to make their service faster and more accurate. The service is now available in all 50 states, and recently launched in Canada, the UK, and Ireland. They have doubled their volume of text exchanges year on year, and developed the second-largest distributed network of active volunteers in the world. Having pioneered an innovative and user-friendly recruitment and training system, Crisis Text Line continues to attract a diverse volunteer pool of strangers helping strangers, including stay-at-home parents, those with disabilities, and people living in rural areas. They are also working to improve the crisis intervention field as a whole, opening their anonymized data to researchers, and sharing insights with the mental health community and law enforcement.
This project is lead by an interim management team at Crisis Text Line. We look forward to sharing more soon.
Spread the word. By texting SHARE to 741741 anyone in the U.S. and Canada can connect to a live Crisis Counselor for free. You can also join the global empathy movement by volunteering as a Crisis Counselor.
Kristy Hixon is a teacher in Forth Worth, Texas, who volunteers at the Crisis Text Line, a texting “hotline” for people dealing with anxiety, depression, loneliness or any other mental health issue. As the pandemic has triggered anxiety and isolated millions of people, volunteers like Hixon have been receiving an increasing number of coronavirus-related texts, many from kids who are stuck at home and going through all sorts of crises.
A new report by crisis counseling service Crisis Text Line shows how depression, anxiety, suicide, and self-harm affect all 50 states in America. A data analysis of 129 million messages sent to Crisis Text Line over the course of six years shows which states are most affected by anxiety, depression, self-harm, and suicide.
With the COVID-19 pandemic driving a mental health emergency, a service providing support for people in crisis via text messages is speeding up expansion plans to add four new languages in the next two and a half years.