Crisis Text Line in 2020

Crisis Text Line

Throughout 2020, Americans endured repeated blows to their national psyche—from COVID-19 outbreaks and death rates to massive protests and polarizing politics. They also reached out to Crisis Text Line in record numbers.

Crisis Text Line is a free and anonymous service that helps people in times of need. They provide support and resources through trained Crisis Counselors.

We’re here to listen

Whether you’re struggling with thoughts of suicide, dealing with housing instability or simply feeling lost, Crisis Text Line has trained volunteers ready to listen. The number can be found by texting BRAVE to 741-741 and is free with most phone carriers (though standard messaging fees apply).

In a conversation, a counselor will introduce themselves, reflect on what you have said, and invite you to share at your own pace. While your counselor is there to guide you through difficult emotions, they are not able to provide medical advice or prescribe medication.

Most conversations last 45-60 minutes, depending on the pace of the conversation. Counselors will refer you to local resources and, in less than 1% of cases, call emergency services on your behalf. They do not promote religion or political views, and will never engage in a discussion about illegal activities or threats to self or others.

We’re here to empower

In a year, Crisis Text Line exchanges more than 26 million messages with people in distress—creating the largest real-time mental health data set. Their approach is based on empathy and respect for users’ autonomy. They use automated decision support and full-time clinical supervision by licensed counselors to monitor text conversations.

For example, if someone expresses that they’re at risk of self-harm, CTL will help them create a safety plan. But they’ll never force a person to engage with emergency services. And, a texter’s privacy is sacred: CTL will only share info with law enforcement in extreme cases—less than 1% of all conversations.

The work is challenging, but the experience is rewarding. Each conversation is a unique learning opportunity. Volunteers, from beginners to those with years of experience, all learn something new every time they step into a conversation. It’s an amazing way to make a difference in people’s lives! It’s a powerful experience to see how much of an impact your work can have.

We’re here to support you

Texters can use Crisis Text Line for anything that’s stressing them out or making them feel overwhelmed. For example, busy schedules, work, finances, and maintaining a home can all contribute to feelings of anxiety.

People may also text in to talk about someone they care about who is struggling or because they want to help them. Then they can get a back-and-forth conversation with a trained Crisis Counselor.

Volunteer Crisis Counselors go through extensive training and are supervised by mental health professionals. Their approach to crisis intervention over text is unique and focuses on helping the person in need find the next step in their healing process.

They can help de-escalate the situation and create a safety plan. They can even reach out to emergency services if necessary. They engage in active rescue in less than 1% of their conversations, however. The organization is focused on using data to identify who needs the most support and when.

We’re here to help you reach out

Whether a texter is going through a breakup, feeling suicidal thoughts, or needing advice on how to support a friend, the Crisis Counselors are there for them. Texters aren’t asked to give their name or other identifying information, and they can talk about anything that is weighing on them, Raja says.

A trained crisis counselor will respond within a few minutes, but can take longer during busy times. They will listen empathetically and help them de-escalate their situation, provide resources, and help them create a plan for safety and recovery. They may also alert emergency services if the person is putting themselves in immediate danger or cannot make their own safety plan, according to the organization’s website.

People can text the number 988 or use the keyword STEVE to connect with a Crisis Counselor 24/7. They will receive two automated responses letting them know they are being connected to a counselor and inviting them to share more at their own pace.