In a year marked by COVID-19 infection and death rates, lockdowns, street protests and political division, Crisis Text Line helped people across America through 1.3 million conversations. Its national data report today reveals some key trends.
Most callers were young, with 76% under the age of 24. Many had no other resources or support system.
A growing number of crisis lines offer free, anonymous texting support. These services are easy to use and available 24/7. This type of support is especially useful in situations where it is unsafe to call a hotline or to talk over the phone.
To access the Crisis Text Line, simply text BRAVE to 741741. A live, trained counselor will respond within minutes. The counselor will help the texter de-escalate their situation and connect them to resources locally. The service also provides a free, national telephone hotline and offers options for people who are deaf or hard of hearing.
You can also contact a helpline through Facebook Messenger. These services have secure and encrypted connections, so your conversations are private. However, it’s important to remember that these services are not a replacement for professional health care. If you think your problem is a medical emergency, call 911 or visit your doctor. If it’s a clinical or long-term issue, consult with a mental health professional.
Text counseling is the latest frontier of mental health services, and it’s proving especially effective with younger teens who don’t want to talk about their problems in person. Teens who text a hotline can do so without anyone else knowing their phone number or name. They can be at home, in school, or anywhere else and still get help.
According to the organization, conversations with counselors last about 45 minutes to an hour on average. Counselors empathize with the person and use active listening to guide them from what’s called a “hot moment” to a “cool calm.” They will often refer the individual to services like shelters or mental health clinics.
The service is available to anyone, but a large majority of its users are teens. Many of them are LGBT, and a significant percentage are former and current military members. These individuals face a unique set of issues that can include depression, suicidal thoughts, and job stress.
It’s available 24/7
If you’re struggling with a mental health issue or have experienced a traumatic event, it may be helpful to contact a helpline. These services, also known as hotlines or crisis lines, provide free and confidential emotional support and crisis intervention through phone, email, text messaging, and online chat. They are available to individuals in the United States and Canada.
The newest service, 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline, uses a new three-digit number to connect people with local services. The new code can be used for chat, web chat, and a text line that offers free, anonymous and confidential support.
For young people of color, the Steve Fund has created a keyword, STEVE, that can be texted to 741741 to connect with a crisis counselor. These counselors are trained to support youth in crisis and are dedicated to addressing the unmet needs of students of color. They use active listening, safety planning, and suggested referrals to help teens move from a “hot moment” to a “cool moment.” They can also connect them with specialized services, including emergency services in some cases.
It’s for everyone
Whether you’re feeling overwhelmed, depressed or suicidal, you can get help through a text message. Crisis lines use the power of technology to connect people in need with trained professionals who can help them navigate rough patches and find local resources.
The process is simple. Individuals can call or text national hotlines to reach a live, trained crisis counselor. In most cases, the counselor will try to help the person move from a “hot moment” to a “cool moment,” and will work with them to find help locally.
The conversations are text-based, and texters can share at their own pace. Conversations typically end when both individuals feel comfortable deciding they are in a cool place. In 2021, the most common issues texters discussed with crisis counselors included depression, anxiety, relationship problems, eating disorders, bullying and suicide thoughts.