In crisis? Text ‘hello’ to 741741.
The Crisis Text Line, a 24/7 anonymous service, provides active listening support to anyone in a crisis.
The Crisis Text Line is a brain child of Nancy Lublin, creator of “Dress for Success” and turn-around CEO of the teen volunteer organization, “Do Something.org”. In 2011, Nancy noted that young people were incredibly honest when texting. She imagined that a crisis text line could be more helpful to people in need than a traditional phone line. It took her 18 months to fully fledge her idea and get funding, but she launched the Crisis Text Line with two employees in August of 2013. Since then, over 30,000,000 text messages have been exchanged on the site.
From TED Blog, May 2014: The Crisis Text Line went live on August 1, 2013. When a teenager texts the service, the message gets pinged to a certified counselor who sees it onscreen. From there, the counselor texts back and forth to get more information and offer resources. The average conversation runs for 66 minutes. And if a specialist needs to go on a bathroom break, or simply feels they don’t have the experience to respond to a particular problem, they can ask for backup without disrupting the conversation by transferring the call.
“Two counselors—it might be someone in Miami and someone in Seattle—can look at the same thread on the screen from the texter and, in the pop-up, talk about how best to respond to this person,” Lublin says. “From the user’s perspective, they haven’t been passed off to anybody — they’re still just talking to Crisis Text Line. But from the counselor’s perspective, the counselor has been supported.”
In her talk, Lublin outlines why the Crisis Text line could be so vital—beyond helping teens one-on-one, it can provide data with implications for parents, teachers, school administrators, even policy makers. The Crisis Text line has amassed data from each text exchange- Key words, zip code locations, ages, problems discussed and connections to supports.
The data bank is now open. It’s completely anonymous and untraceble, and policy makers and healthcare providers can dig into any zip code and see exactly what health needs are present in the community.
Here are so quick FAQs on how the Crisis Text Line works:
Q: WHAT IS CRISIS TEXT LINE?
A: A free, 24/7 text line for people in crisis.
Q: HOW DOES CRISIS TEXT LINE WORK?
- You text 741741 when in crisis. Available 24/7 in the USA.
- A live, trained crisis counselor receives the text and responds quickly.
- The crisis counselor helps you move from a hot moment to a cool calm to stay safe and healthy using effective active listening and suggested referrals – all through text message using Crisis Text Line’s secure platform.
Q: WHO SHOULD TEXT IN?
A: We exist to help anyone in crisis at any time.
Q: WHAT DO YOU MEAN BY “MOVE FROM A HOT MOMENT TO A COOL CALM?”
A: Our Crisis Counselors bring texters “from a hot moment to a “cool calm” using techniques in empathetic listening. Once they’ve built rapport and trust, explored the issues, and established the texter’s goal, they collaboratively problem-solve to help the texter come up with a plan to stay safe.
Q: WHO ARE THE CRISIS COUNSELORS?
A: Our Crisis Counselors dedicated, trained, supervised volunteers from around the country. After a rigorous multi-stage application process, background check, and graduating from our training program, each volunteers 4 hours every week (all at once or in two 2-hour shifts). Supervisors (who all have master’s degrees or PhDs in psychology or social work) oversee the Crisis Counselors.
Q: WHAT CAN I EXPECT WHEN I TEXT IN?
A: You’ll receive an automated text asking you what your crisis is. Within minutes, a live trained crisis counselor will answer your text. They will help you out of your moment of crisis and work with you to create a plan to continue to feel better.
Q: IS CRISIS TEXT LINE ACTUALLY ANONYMOUS?
A: Yes. Crisis counselors only know what texters share with them, and that information stays confidential. We take your anonymity seriously. Check out our terms of service here.
Q: HOW MUCH DOES CRISIS TEXT LINE COST?
A: We do not charge texters. If your cell phone plan is with AT&T, T-Mobile, Sprint, or Verizon, texts to our short code, 741741 are free of charge. If you have a plan with a different carrier, standard text message rates apply.