The Crisis Text Line is a crisis hotline that lets those in crisis text a volunteer crisis counselor. Since they launched in 2013, millions of texts have been exchanged between those asking for help and those providing it.
This 10-minute TED talk by the founder Nancy Lublin provides an inspiring overview.
For students in crisis
I’m adding this statement to my syllabus:
Counseling Center. Are you feeling stressed about college? Tests? Your future? A relationship? A loss? Adjusting to a new culture? An addiction, yours or someone else's? Living? Visit Highline's Counseling Center (counseling.highline.edu) in Building 6, upstairs on the north side of the building. Email: email@example.com. Phone: (206) 592-3353
If the Counseling Center is closed and you need to talk with someone now, call the King County Crisis Clinic at (206) 461-3222.
If you'd rather text with someone, contact the Crisis Text Line by texting HELLO to 741-741.
For texters concerned about privacy, the volunteer counselors don’t see their phone numbers. It’s all done through an encrypted computer interface. And for those who are really concerned, they can text “loofah” (or similar spellings) to have their texts scrubbed from the system (Dupere, 2016).
Is your psych club, Psi Beta chapter or Psi Chi chapter looking for a project?
Print and post flyers on your campus. You can use the Crisis Text Line’s pre-made flyer.
Or do a fundraiser. Crisis Text Line accepts donations.
How to become a volunteer
Volunteers apply, and those who are accepted undergo 34 hours of online training. Volunteers commit to doing one 4-hour shift per week for a year.
Do you have students who are over 18 years old who might be interested in volunteering? Download the Crisis Text Line volunteer flyer: http://www.crisistextline.org/wp-content/uploads/CTLVolunteerFlyer.pdf. It’s not a guaranteed gig; 39% of those who apply are accepted to begin the training (Dupere, 2016).
Show me the data
All of those 18 million texts provide a boat-load of data. And those data are publicly available at http://crisistrends.org.
Texts about depression increase throughout the day, peaking at 8pm.
Texts about family issues are most common on Sundays.
The state with the most LGBTQ-related texts? Alaska. The least? Vermont.
The state with the most bullying-related texts? Vermont. The least? New Hampshire.
Starting in Spring 2014, texts about anxiety and texts about suicidal thoughts co-occur.
You can also choose a topic to see a sample text and a word cloud of the top 50 words that appear in texts related to that topic. Here’s what I got when I selected anxiety.
If you’re a researcher interested in using their data, their FAQ says, “Data access is available to approved academic researchers. The application will be available here in late January 2016.” As of this writing (June 2016), I don’t see an application. If you’re interested, email them at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dupere, K. (2016, May 28). This text line is helping teens talk about mental health without saying a word. Retrieved May 31, 2016, from http://mashable.com/2016/05/28/crisis-text-line/