Crisis Text Line

The Cool Calm

The Cool Calm is the Crisis Text Line blog. Insights, data, stories, and other looks at our work in crisis intervention and technology.

September 2017 Newsletter: After the Storm


I. Ask Bob: After the Storm ☔

Have a data question? Email our Chief Data Scientist:

Natural disasters impact communities in many ways--including mental health. What does our data say?

Editor's Note: The data in this newsletter was pulled and originally published prior to Hurricane Maria, hence its exclusion from this Ask Bob feature. We currently have insufficient conversation data about Hurricane Maria to provide meaningful insights.

Context: We’ve found that texters texting in about natural disasters are more likely to reach out during the day, talk about finances, homelessness, family issues, and skew male and over the age 25. The top two referrals offered in positively rated conversations related to natural disasters are: Disaster Assistance and CareConnect USA.

We did a deep dive on recent hurricane data...

The Numbers: We’ve seen ~2.1K conversations related to hurricane Harvey in since August 22nd (ranging from 3 - 5% of our daily volume) and around 1k conversations related to Irma in the week following its impact (2% of daily volume).

We took a look at two of the counties - Galveston and Harris (Houston) - that took a direct hit from Harvey to see how the hurricane has impacted texters over time:

  • Increasing Volume Post-Crisis: Volume from Galveston and Harris started increasing a few days before Harvey made landfall, and continued to increase in the weeks since.
  • Changing Issues: Rates of Stress & Anxiety have increased by 40% (to 22% of conversations) and 3rd-party texters (texters contacting us about someone else's crisis) have doubled.
  • Increasing Severity: Active rescues are occurring at a slightly higher rate. 1.1% of these conversations resulted in an active rescue (the norm is 0.7%).

II. Heroes 💪🏽

John Daly has been a Crisis Counselor since late July, and has already built a strong reputation for himself through his positivity and knack for getting texters to a calm place. We asked him a few questions about his experience so far, and looking forward.

What helps you stay positive during challenging conversations?

If it's a particularly challenging conversation, I try and keep poking into the chat windows with other CCs to bring levity to the night - Could be asking for some encouragement (which is always sent by my fellow Monday/Wednesday night crew) or checking in and seeing a joke/funny story in the Random Chat. Being a CC has been very tough emotionally at times, but reading love and encouragement from other CCs can snap me out of it before ending my shifts. Always give some love and help to a fellow CC, just like a texter, you never know who really could use the attention.

What are you most looking forward to learning as you continue as a Crisis Counselor?

CCs constantly keep the chat windows alive with fantastic info, content, and tips for specific questions or issues - some I have not dealt with yet. I'm excited to grow my CC Battle Chest with more phrases and guiding questions to be the best CC I can for the texters I get assigned. I recently became a Level 2 and have been rocking 3 convos at once during high volume times, and the example messages can be a big help. No texter is going to be the same, but having an idea where to take a convo can benefit that texter even more.

Based on your experience as a CC, what advice would you give someone trying to help a friend in crisis?

Helping someone figure things out for themselves is way more powerful than prescribing a solution to an immediate crisis. Being the voice of encouragement for a friend saying "You are strong and can do this" can make all the difference when they are doubting their own self during a crisis. What someone in crisis needs most is helping to find that courage within themselves. That's done by helping them come up with solutions together, not saying "Try this and call me tomorrow." They don't have to face a crisis alone, but your friend needs to be the one with the tools to fight it.

Have a computer and a ❤? You can apply to be a Crisis Counselor!  Learn more.

Have a computer and a ❤? You can apply to be a Crisis Counselor! Learn more.

III. Org News 📰

Welcome to the team. Dr. Shairi Turner has joined as Chief Medical Officer. Check out our Q&A with her here.

We’re hiring! Senior Software Engineers and Machine Learning Data Scientists

In the press. Founder/CEO Nancy Lublin and To Write Love on Her Arms Founder Jamie Tworkowski chatted with Teen Vogue about suicide prevention via Facebook Live. Check out their conversation here!

Meet our team! Crisis Text Line staff is often out talking about data, tech and all things mental health. These are public events!

  • Los Angeles: Tech folks! Come learn more about our work at Headspace HQ, at 5:30pm Pacific on October 18. Join our community

Partnerships! A&E’s new series Undercover High, which follows seven young adults who go undercover to learn about what high school students are dealing with, launched October 10th. Crisis Text Line is the primary resource listed in the show’s branding.

Know an awesome org we should be partnered with? Email Liz Eddy at

IV. Blog Highlights 💻

Dear New Crisis Counselor... by the Crisis Counselor Community

  • "Congratulations on your first real conversation with a texter! Chances are you’ll never forget it. We’ve all been exactly where you are, and we remember how it feels."

My Life as a Survivor by Jen James

  • "The voices that I had been hearing since I was around 18 were particularly loud that night..."

Inside Look: 🕵🏻

  • This month, the entire Crisis Text Line staff is going through the new version of Crisis Counselor training at the same time! 📚
  • 350+ Crisis Counselors will be gathering for our 2nd Annual Palooza. Want to know more? Become a Crisis Counselor! 😉
Crisis Text Line