College students can feel overwhelmed with stress and pressure. Texting can be a discreet and easy way to get help.
Crisis Text Line is a free, anonymous support service that offers text-based mental health support. Anyone in the US can access it by texting “GOT5” or 741741 to be connected with a trained Crisis Counselor.
What is Crisis Text Line?
Crisis Text Line is a free, anonymous, nationwide network that allows individuals to communicate with trained Crisis Counselors via text message. It is available 24/7 and can be used for any type of crisis. New York State has partnered with this service and you can find more information on their website and in the video below.
The service works by connecting individuals with volunteer Crisis Counselors, who help them sort through their feelings by asking questions, empathizing and actively listening. During a typical conversation, individuals may bring up any topic that is on their mind, and the Crisis Counselor will provide them with resources to get further help locally.
The majority of conversations are about suicidal thoughts, depression and anxiety. However, the service also assists people dealing with family, relationships and school stress. In less than 1% of cases, the Crisis Text Line will alert emergency services to a person who is at risk for self-harm or harming others.
How can I use Crisis Text Line?
Taking the first step to reach out for help can be the hardest and bravest thing. If you feel like you’re in a crisis, text “Got5” or “Got5U” to 741741. The first two responses are automated and let you know that you’re being connected with a volunteer Crisis Counselor who is there to listen.
Crisis counselors use empathetic listening to support texters through their crisis. They don’t ask questions to pry or interrogate and instead allow the texter to share at their own pace. The goal is to get the texter to a safe, calm place.
They also help texters identify the best options for seeking help locally. In less than 1% of crises, the counselors alert emergency services. This is done only when there’s a threat of harm to the texter or others. Texters can also connect with the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline over Facebook Messenger. This isn’t available on all phones yet, but will be in the future.
What if I don’t want to use Crisis Text Line?
The services offer free mental health help through a text-based system that connects users with a trained crisis counselor. People who use these services can be dealing with a variety of issues including suicide, depression, anxiety, domestic violence, addiction and eating disorders.
Unlike phone hotlines, texting allows both parties to communicate more quickly and effectively. However, messaging platforms lack the nuances of voice and body language that are often crucial for conveying trust and empathy between counselors and their clients.
To address this issue, many of these services are staffed by volunteers who are trained in empathy and crisis intervention skills. They are taught to empathize with their clients and avoid interrogating them or asking inappropriate questions. Volunteers are also encouraged to prompt texters to identify their options and weigh the pros and cons of different solutions, rather than providing advice themselves. This is important because it helps to empower the texter and promotes ownership of their own recovery.
What if I don’t need Crisis Text Line?
A crisis text line is not for every situation, but it’s an option to consider. It can help de-escalate situations, offer support and connect people to resources at a local level. It can be accessed by texting “REACH” to 741-741 and takes less than five minutes to get connected with a counselor.
Users lauded the texting format as an important advantage, facilitating access to crisis support in times and spaces where it would be uncomfortable or unsafe to speak over the phone. Many also noted that texting is more discrete than calling a hotline, and enables individuals to reach out without relying on loved ones for support or being perceived as a burden.
Don’t let the name fool you – crisis lines don’t just help with suicide, they can be used for any kind of painful emotion. It is brave to ask for help, and don’t discredit your feelings as not being a crisis. You deserve help.