Texting for Mental Health: The Crisis Text Line

Published May 28, 2019 by:
help for cravings - the crisis text line - emergency

The Crisis Text Line is a not-for-profit organization that focuses on providing counseling to people in crisis. People in crisis can reach the Crisis Text Line by texting “HOME” to 741741, and counseling will be available to them 24/7. Texting the Crisis Text Line will result in a well-trained crisis counselor helping you process, evaluate, and problem-solve whichever situation you may be going through.

Since August of 2013, the Crisis Text Line has exchanged well over 105 million text messages with people in crisis.

What is Considered a Crisis?

The Crisis Text Line urges people to reach out for any anxiety and stress-related issues. The most common crises that people text about, include: relationships, depression/sadness, suicide, isolation/loneliness, self harm, abuse (emotional), bullying, eating/body image, grief, abuse (physical), abuse (sexual), substance abuse, gender/sexual identity, and 3rd party issues (The Crisis Text Line). The dictionary defines crisis as “a time of intense difficulty, trouble, or danger” (Google).

Trends

Data, as collected from 2013-2019, reflect some trends for those in the United States who used this free service. Data shows that the highest volume of messages to the Crisis Text Line occur from Monday through Thursday. The most common time to text the Crisis Text Line in 10pm, and the second highest time of day is 8pm.

Mental Health

We believe it is extremely significant for those in a crisis, or undergoing mental health issues, to have support available to them. Mental health issues are common, especially when the addition of a crisis comes into play. Over 18% of adults in the United States (43.6 million) experience mental illness in a given year (Althoff). Mental health conditions are not only reserved for those who suffer from a mental illness, but also their family, friends, and communities. People who are feeling like their mental health is diminishing due to the crisis, can find a great benefit in talking to someone who is trained to help them process it. This Crisis Text Line bridges the gap between variables that often deter people from seeking therapy, like:

  1. money
  2. The service is free

  3. pressure
  4. The therapist applies no pressure, as they simply respond to the SMS messages you send to try and help you the best they can.

  5. judgement
  6. The therapist can only read what you are writing to them, they will not see or hear you during the service.

  7. accessibility
  8. You have 24/7 access to help without having to worry about appointment times for traditional therapy when a crisis occurs.

What Helps People Overcome Crises?

Crises are best handled with psychotherapy, or talking to a therapist one-on-one. The Crisis Text Line uses counselors who are trained to help people in crises when they text in. Trends in success rates, as pulled from a year-long study conducted by the Crisis Text Line, identified that a perspective change for the texter shows a higher likelihood of conversation success. A perspective change was dependent on three factors: time, self, and sentiment (Althoff).

    Time

  • ” We find that texters writing more about the future are more likely to feel better after the conversation. This suggests that changing the perspective from issues in the past towards the future is associated with a higher likelihood of successfully working through the crisis” (Althoff).
  • Self

  • “Another important aspect of behavior change
    is to what degree the texter is able to change their perspective from talking about themselves to considering others and potentially the effect of their situation on others… a smaller amount of self-focus is associated with more successful conversations” (Alhoff).
  • Sentiment

  • “We measure sentiment as the relative fraction of positive words…The results …show that texters always start out more negative, but that the sentiment becomes more positive over time for both positive and negative conversations” (Althoff).

Issues You Can Text About

For people experiencing a crisis, often they find it hard to talk about their issues. Texting allows for more of a privacy aspect to be in place— because SMS messaging is only using text as opposed to in-person contact, or vocal audio. Because of these aspects, texting makes it easier for those experiencing mental health issues to reach out.

The issues you can text the Crisis Text Line about include: anxiety, bereavement, bullying, depression, eating disorders, family issues, friend issues, health concerns, isolation, LGBTQ issues, physical abuse, relationship issues, school problems, self harm, sexual abuse, stress, substance abuse, and suicidal thoughts.

Substance Abuse and the Crisis Text Line

We think the Crisis Text Line is a great tool to use in any times of overwhelming craving or distress due to any urges relating to substance abuse or addiction. Texting a counselor from the Crisis Text Line could help you prevent relapse, as counselors will walk you through the craving and provide help for you as you’re experiencing the urge to use.

How it Works

Once you text the number 741741, you will get an automated message asking what your crisis is. From there, a trained crisis counselor will begin messaging with you. Crisis counselors are trained to help bring you from an elevated state of intense emotion, to a calm state. Safety is the number one priority with the Crisis Text Line. Through out your conversation, the counselor will work with you to create a safe environment and help you create a safety plan for the future.

This service is confidential, meaning that none of your information is shared unless it is absolutely necessary for your safety. Another benefit of this service, is that it doesn’t cost anything. “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, it works just like texting a friend: standard text message rates apply” (The Crisis Text Line). If you are unable to reach a counselor through text messaging, you can also reach out to counselors from the Crisis Text Line from Facebook Messenger.

Why this Service is Important for You

Whether you are in or have completed a drug rehab program, we believe therapy is of the utmost importance for positive change. Because crises can occur at any stage of recovery, we know that having as many tools as possible can only help you. The Crisis Text Line represents an amazing tool to use as a last-resort in a crisis. The most significant thing you can do for yourself after addiction treatment is stay enrolled in therapy; attend sessions with a therapist regularly. However, we know sometimes overwhelming cravings can hit at inopportune hours, where you may not have anyone to reach out to, which is why we wanted to share this tool. We believe you can prevent a relapse if you reach out to a counselor in your time of distress. This service also supports the fact that you are never alone in whatever you are going through. Reaching out for help is crucial in every stage of recovery.

We also want to make it a point to say that if you are experiencing a true emergency, you should always call 911 or your local hospital for emergency services. Your safety is the most important thing.

Our Treatment

Of course, if you are in treatment with us at Royal Life Centers, we have a staff that is available 24/7 for you. Our staff members are well-trained and can help you through any issues you may be experiencing. At Royal Life Centers, we provide addiction treatment programs that are designed to follow you through the stages of the recovery process. We use proven-effective methods of addiction treatment, and only the best practices. Our treatment programs at Royal Life Centers include: medical detox, a residential inpatient program, a partial hospitalization program (PHP), an intensive outpatient program (IOP), an outpatient program (OP), sober living and graduate housing. Our treatment focuses on healing our guests holistically, or in the mind, body, and spirit. We provide a range of intensive therapies, to give our guests the skills and tools they need to rebuild happy, healthy, and meaningful lives in sobriety. We also offer alumni services and family services for the families of our guests.

Reach Out

If you or someone you know is suffering from an addiction, please reach out to us at (877)-RECOVERY or (877)-732-6837. Our team of addiction specialists make themselves available to take your call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Because We Care.

References:

Althoff, Tim, Kevin Clark, & Jure Leskovec. “Large-scale Analysis of Counseling Conversations: An Application of Natural Language Processing to Mental Health.” Transactions of the Association for Computational Linguistics [Online], 4 (2016): 463-476. Web.

The Crisis Text Line. “Crisis Trends.” Crisis Trends 2013-2019, Crisis Text Line, 2019, crisistrends.org/

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