If a person is having a mental health crisis and needs support, they can speak to a Crisis Volunteer by texting the word Shout to 85258
“I appreciate everything you have done for me! You've helped me more than anyone has in the past 12 months so I'm so thankful. I hope when I am healed I can go on to help and teach other young people about mental health and that you can speak up when you are in an abusive horrible relationship! I thank you so much.”A 15-year-old texter seeking help with emotional, physical and sexual abuse.
Shout is powered by an army of Crisis Volunteers who take shifts remotely, supported on an online platform by trained clinical supervisors. For the texter, there is no registration process, the conversation is anonymous, silent, and free and off-bill with most mobile providers. To date, Shout has supported over 160,000 conversations, and provides help to around 700 people in crisis every day. Texters’ presenting issues vary widely. Depression, anxiety and suicidal thoughts feature prominently, but relationship/friendship issues, self-harm and problems at school are also common amongst younger texters.
The Shout pilot began with partner charities The Mix, YoungMinds and Place2Be in May 2018 and was marketed as a ‘white-label’ service. It was launched publicly a year later, in May 2019, with an appeal from The Duke of Cambridge for more people to train as Crisis Volunteers. The response was overwhelmingly positive and the Shout Crisis Volunteer base now consists of around 1,500 incredible, passionate individuals spread all over the UK. Around 1,000 more are currently in training. The training takes 25 hours and is carried out online, with support from coaches.
Shout’s text conversations are generating an unprecedented body of anonymised data, which can be harnessed by Mental Health Innovations and the wider mental health sector to provide an improved service as well as additional support. Mental Health Innovations is working in partnership with Imperial College London to best understand the data and to identify what support could be valuable for specific groups and demographics.
With increased capacity and a growing volunteer base, the focus for Shout into 2020 and beyond is to market the service widely across the UK, to reach more people who need help in moments of crisis.
“Thank you so much. I find it hard to talk on the phone because I get choked up when trying to explain things. You made me feel like somebody actually cared and really helped me out at a difficult time.”A young woman, aged 21, who had a text conversation discussing anxiety, stress and suicidal thoughts.
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