Crisis Text Line

Founded in 2013, Crisis Text Line has collected what is said to be the largest mental health data set in the world. Its volunteer Crisis Counselors use that information to prioritize the most urgent conversations.

But some staffers have complained that they can’t trust the company’s leadership. And that could be harmful to the organization’s mission.

What is Crisis Text Line?

Crisis Text Line is a non-profit organization that provides free, 24/7 crisis support through text message. The service offers help and resources to people facing any kind of difficult situation, whether it’s suicidal thoughts or a difficult home life. To get started with a conversation, text HOME to 741741.

Volunteer Crisis Counselors use active listening skills and community support to help people in their hardest moments. They are trained to empathize with their texters, rather than interrogate them, and to provide emotional support as well as practical assistance like safety planning. They also encourage their texters to identify and weigh pros and cons of their options.

Unlike many other mental health services, the organization does not ask for users’ names or other personal information. And although standard messaging rates apply, conversations with the service are always completely free. This helps them appeal to millennials and Gen Zers who are more comfortable using their phones as modes of communication.

How do I use Crisis Text Line?

Crisis Text Line is free, 24/7 support via texting with a trained Crisis Counselor. Individuals in the United States can access this resource by texting ‘HOME’ to 741741. Additionally, Facebook has partnered with Crisis Text Line and the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline to allow people to chat live on Facebook Messenger with counselors from these national resources.

These counselors are trained to empathize with their texters, rather than interrogate them. They also are encouraged to prompt texters with options and help them weigh pros and cons, if needed.

There’s no wrong way to begin a Crisis Text Line conversation. You can text ‘BRAVE’ to 741741, ‘HOME’ to 741741, or ‘GOT5U’ to 741741. You can even use the keyword STEVE — created by The Steve Fund for College Students of Color — to connect with a counselor who has received special training to support young people in crisis. In less than 1% of cases, a Crisis Counselor will engage in an active rescue, where they’ll work with a local 911 center and collaborate with first responders to ensure a texter’s safety.

What are the benefits of using Crisis Text Line?

Crisis text lines allow people to talk about their problems without having to be around others, or risking their privacy by calling a phone number that might not get answered. Additionally, they are free for anyone to use and do not require health insurance.

These services can be especially helpful for people who are in rural areas with no therapists nearby or live in homes with people who may frown upon seeing a counselor. Taking that first step to reach out for help can be the hardest and bravest thing, and it’s good to know that your conversations with a Crisis Counselor will be confidential and discreet.

Crisis text lines like this one and Teen Line can also be used in schools, hospitals, and clinics to connect students or patients with trained crisis counselors. These resources can help people deal with a wide range of issues including depression, homelessness, relationship troubles, and mental illness. In a recent study, it was found that people who have more successful conversations with Crisis Text Line counselors are those who have a perspective change, and focus their conversation on the future as opposed to their past experiences.

How do I get help from Crisis Text Line?

If you are in crisis or need emotional support, text BRAVE to 741741. You’ll receive two automated responses — one telling you that you’re being connected with a Counselor and the other inviting you to share a bit more about how you’re feeling. You can respond at your own pace, and you’ll continue to message back and forth with the counselor until you both feel like you are in a cool, safe place.

These services offer help 24/7, and they are free of charge and confidential. They are especially helpful for young people of color who may not be able to access the help they need through traditional means.

However, the fact that these services are text-based and don’t have the same compliance standards as a health care provider may raise ethical concerns for some users. For example, it can be challenging for those considering suicide to carefully read a company’s terms of service in a moment of panic or distress.