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.
Nancy is Co-founder & CEO of Crisis Text Line. At age 23, she founded Dress for Success. This global organization provides career development training to women in 22 countries. In 2003, She also served as the CEO of DoSomething.org, transforming it into one of the largest youth organizations in the world. While in that role, Nancy realized that teens needed a way to get crisis counseling via text, so she created Crisis Text Line, the first free, 24/7 text line for people in crisis in the US. Nancy holds a BA from Brown University, a law degree from New York University and completed her MLitt at Oxford University as a Marshall Scholar.
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.