Every hour, there are thousands of people experiencing a crisis in the United States. Countless individuals and families, especially young people, grapple with a myriad of crises such as anxiety and depression to self-harm and suicidal ideation, which often remain hidden from the public eye. Inspired by the power of text messaging in these moments, we founded Crisis Text Line 10 years ago. We knew young people felt at home texting on their phones. Whether someone is in a crowded classroom or lying awake in bed, texting makes it possible to reach out for support anonymously. When we launched, few believed our text-only model would work. Today, we have compelling evidence that our service is highly impactful.
Check out our top 10 takeaways from a decade of impact at Crisis Text Line:
- Every half hour, there is someone on the verge of a life-threatening crisis in the U.S. who is able to find strength and resilience during a 40-minute conversation with our volunteers. That is over 40 people, and 40 families a day who may have been spared the trauma of the aftermath of that crisis.
- People need us the most on Mondays, evenings, and towards the end of the year. This is similar to what happens in hospital emergency rooms.
- We see the effect of disasters in our data as well. The psychological effect of hurricanes is enduring, and the effect of mass shootings extends far beyond the communities that are directly affected.
- Climate change has shown up in our conversations with texters. When it’s extremely hot, our data suggests that young people in urban areas with little park space reach out to us more.
- Sometimes, political events are associated with higher demand for our service. For example, on the night of the 2016 presidential elections, we saw a 9x increase in our volume overnight.
- Crisis intervention via text works. On a daily basis, over 3,500 people text us for support and 87% of our texters find our service helpful. Texters feel more hopeful, less depressed, and less overwhelmed after texting with our volunteers.
- The genuine concern of a Crisis Counselor matters a lot to our texters, and it will always be at the core of our service. Genuine concern is the strongest predictor of whether a texter feels that the conversation helped them, and 86% of our texters agree that their Crisis Counselor genuinely cared.
- Text-based crisis support levels the playing field across demographics. Regardless of race, gender, or sexuality, our texters find our service similarly helpful. Since 2013, 43% of our texters have self-identified as BIPOC and 47% of our texters have self-identified as LGBTQ+. Additionally, young people contacted us in new ways during the pandemic. They texted us later, and they talked more about anxiety. Our research partners found clusters of adolescent grief around the country, as many children lost caregivers.
- People are eager to show up for each other, especially when there is a collective crisis. At the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, we witnessed an unprecedented surge in volunteer applications. Since 2013, over 60,000 people completed our Crisis Counselor training, and they have donated over 342 years of their time collectively.
- Spanish speakers need crisis support to be available in Spanish, not just in translation. The Spanish-speaking population is vastly underserved in the mental health field with only 5.5% of psychologists in the US providing service in Spanish. Crisis Text Line was the first to make Spanish-language crisis support possible via text in 2021. Since then, we’ve had over 22,000 conversations with texters in Spanish.
Our goal is to make sure that everyone has the support they need when they need it – and that includes live human-to-human connection offering caring, non-judgemental support. It is essential to remember that the struggles we do not see are just as real and pressing as the ones we do. By raising awareness and promoting change, we will continue to push the boundaries of what we know about mental health crises. We are looking forward to the next 10 years–helping to reduce mental health stigma, support individuals in need and work together to create a more compassionate and resilient society.
Click here to view our full Decade of Impact Report!
If you are looking to make a difference in people’s lives, join our network of amazing volunteers today.
Need support? Text HOME or HOLA to 741741 or via web chat to be connected to a live volunteer Crisis Counselor. We are always here for you, 24/7.