Crisis Text Line is a global nonprofit organization providing free and confidential text-based mental health support and crisis intervention by texting HOME to 741741.[1] The organization launched in 2013, and its services are available 24 hours a day throughout the United States, Canada, UK, and Ireland. As of August 2023, the organization reported that it had supported over 8 million support conversations.[2]

Crisis Text Line
FoundersNancy Lublin
Bob Filbin
Founded atNew York, NY
PurposeMental health support and crisis intervention
HeadquartersNew York City, United States
Key people
Dena Trujillo (CEO)

History edit

Crisis Text Line was conceptualized as a result of DoSomething's mobile interactions with its members.[3] Nancy Lublin, DoSomething's former CEO, began creating Crisis Text Line after members of the DoSomething organization started reaching out via text for personal support.[3] The service launched in 2013, as the first text-based nationwide hotline.[1] By 2015, the text line was being contacted by more than 350 texters-in-crisis every day.[4]

In early 2015, Lublin coordinated meetings over a week "to raise her first round of funding." And "[b]y the end of the week, she had her 'angel' round of philanthropic capital, $5 million, mostly from tech entrepreneurs."[5]

In July 2015, it was announced that Verizon, Sprint, and T-Mobile would be waiving fees for use of the service, and in response to privacy concerns that texts to Crisis Text Line would not appear on billing records.[6] AT&T then followed suit.[7]

In January 2016, Chief Data Scientist Bob Filbin was highlighted in The Chronicle of Philanthropy as one of their 40 Under 40 for his work using data to inform Crisis Text Line's efforts. He explains that Crisis Text Line's data collection is centered on "people in their greatest moment of crisis," and that "most of the other data on mental health and crisis is survey data, which is collected after the fact."[8]

On June 16, 2016, Crisis Text Line announced that it has raised $23.8 million from Reid Hoffman, Melinda Gates, Ballmer Group, and Omidyar Network, following the funding approach of tech start-ups.[9]

In March 2017, Crisis Text Line began offering its services via Facebook Messenger and in March 2019 it reported passing its 100 million message milestone.[10][11]

In 2018, Crisis Text Line launched its services in Canada through a partnership with the Kids Help Phone organization.[12] In May 2019, they launched their United Kingdom affiliate, Shout, with the Heads Together Foundation.[13]

In April 2020, Business Insider reported that the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has caused "a dramatic spike in people seeking help from crisis text hotlines...The spike coincides with the worsening of the novel coronavirus worldwide, as well as historic layoffs in the U.S." In just a number of weeks, "the number of texts to the hotline has been 47% to 116% higher than an average day".[14]

In 2020, after multiple complaints about management, Crisis Text Line staffers staged a virtual walkout and Twitter campaign (#NotMyCrisisTextLine) demanding the Board of Directors create an "anti-racist" work environment.[15] In response the Board terminated Lublin and replaced two Board members.[16] Dena Trujillo became Interim CEO in 2020 and was named CEO in October 2021.[16]

In 2021, Crisis Text Line launched a Spanish language service to improve service accessibility for Spanish speakers.[17]

In January 2022, Politico investigated Crisis Text Line's practice text data with a for-profit company,, for the purpose of training automated customer support systems to be more “human, empathetic, and scalable”. The for-profit company and the nonprofit had close ties: Crisis Text Line had an ownership stake in as well as having previously had the same CEO for over a year. The organizations had a revenue sharing agreement, which had not activated as of January 2022. The practice of sharing data from people in crisis drew criticism from privacy advocates and Crisis Text Line volunteers, but the nonprofit company argued the practice was legal because clients had continued texting after being notified of the terms of service in a link.[18] The organization announced it was ending its data sharing arrangement three days later.[19]

In May 2022, Nike announced its new podcast No Off-Season, which featured difficult conversations surrounding mental health topics. Told from the perspective of the brand’s top athletes, each episode was guided by mental health experts Crisis Text Line’s Chief Health Officer Dr. Shairi Turner and Global Expansion Director Natalia Dayan.[20]

In 2023, Crisis Text Line released its United Empathy Report, an analysis of over 1.3 million conversations in 2022, highlighting the issues that texters discussed and the coping strategies that helped them feel better.[21]

Operations edit

Sign promoting the Crisis Text Line at the Golden Gate Bridge

People who are in any type of crisis can reach out to the text line and expect to be connected with a crisis counselor. Text messaging has been shown to be an effective way to do crisis counseling, due to its popularity with its target young audience, and the anonymity it provides.[22] If the texter is in imminent risk of suicide or harm and is unwilling to separate themselves from the means of harm and create a safety plan, emergency services may be contacted in order to ensure the safety of the texter.[22]

The text line is notable among hotlines for its triage system, in which conversations are assessed by an algorithm for severity and queued accordingly, as opposed to being queued chronologically.[23] This identifies the most vulnerable texters (including those at imminent risk for suicide).[24]

Crisis Text Line’s service is powered by volunteer Crisis Counselors who receive 30 hours of free comprehensive training, which is virtual, interactive, self-paced and in English and Spanish. Clinical supervisors, with degrees in mental health-related fields, monitor every conversation, give feedback in real-time and provide additional support when necessary for volunteer Crisis Counselors.[1] The skills volunteers gain from the training also help them support their family and friends as well as navigate their own mental health.[23] was launched in August 2014 to collect and analyze anonymized texting data derived from the activities of the Crisis Text Line platform.[4] The data is used to display crisis trends according to texter gender, age, race, and ethnicity. It is shared with the public to help decrease stigma around mental health support.[2] Research agencies and institutions also can have access to this data for research purposes.[25]

Crisis Text Line has many open data partnerships, one of them being a collaboration with the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory that aims to predict and prevent veteran suicides.[26]

See also edit

References edit

  1. ^ a b c Wang, Lydia (May 24, 2023). "'Being On Both Sides Of A Crisis Hotline Taught Me The Healing Power Of Connection'". Women's Health Magazine. Retrieved August 2, 2023.
  2. ^ a b "Crisis Trends". Crisis Text Line. Retrieved May 9, 2019.
  3. ^ a b Lublin, Nancy (March 13, 2014). "Texting that saves lives". TED. TED. Retrieved July 6, 2015.
  4. ^ a b Morris, Alex (June 19, 2015). "How Crisis Text Line Founder Nancy Lublin Is Saving Lives, Text by Text". Glamour. Retrieved July 6, 2015.
  5. ^ "Funding Lessons From Crisis Text Line". Giving Compass. February 5, 2019. Retrieved May 12, 2020.
  6. ^ Fried, Ina (July 7, 2015). "Carriers Waive Charges for Crisis Text Line". re/code. Retrieved July 8, 2015.
  7. ^ Branson, Richard (July 10, 2015). "Texting in a Crisis: The Inspiring Story of Nancy Lublin".
  8. ^ Wallace, Nicole (January 5, 2016). "Bob Filbin: Counting Texts, Saving Lives". The Chronicle of Philanthropy. Retrieved February 1, 2016.
  9. ^ "Crisis Text Line Raises $23.8 Million | Omidyar Network". Retrieved April 22, 2021.
  10. ^ O'Brien, Sara Ashley (March 2017). "Facebook Wants to Get Smarter About Suicide Prevention". Retrieved March 2, 2019.
  11. ^ "100 Million Messages — the Cool Calm". Retrieved May 10, 2019.
  12. ^ "Mental health support by text launches for kids across Canada". The Canadian Press. November 6, 2018. Retrieved December 6, 2019.
  13. ^ "Prince William, Kate Middleton, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle Announce New Project Together". Retrieved May 10, 2019.
  14. ^ Ward, Marguerite. "Coronavirus and mass layoffs are causing a dramatic spike in people seeking help from crisis text hotlines". Business Insider. Retrieved May 12, 2020.
  15. ^ Schiffer, Zoe (June 17, 2020). "Crisis Mode". The Verge. Vox Media. Retrieved April 22, 2021.
  16. ^ a b O'Brien, Sara (June 12, 2020). "Crisis Text Line CEO fired amid staff revolt". CNN. Retrieved August 2, 2023.
  17. ^ ""Hola", la clave para que los latinos puedan recibir apoyo emocional gratuito". Yahoo (in Spanish). October 8, 2021. Retrieved August 1, 2023.
  18. ^ Levine, Alexandra (January 28, 2022). "Suicide hotline shares data with for-profit spinoff, raising ethical questions". Politico. Retrieved January 29, 2022.
  19. ^ Hicks, Jasmine; Lawler, Richard (February 1, 2022). "Crisis Text Line stops sharing conversation data with AI company". The Verge. Retrieved January 29, 2022.
  20. ^ Arion, Aley (May 11, 2022). "Nike's New Podcast, 'No Off-Season,' Puts Spotlight On Mental Health With Help Of Star Athletes". Essence. Retrieved September 22, 2023.
  21. ^ Wolters, Claire (May 16, 2022). "Your patients' texts reveal that relationships are suffering thanks to the pandemic". MDLinx. Retrieved September 22, 2023.
  22. ^ a b Bornstein, David (December 12, 2017). "Opinion | A Crisis Line That Calms With Texting and Data". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved December 6, 2019.
  23. ^ a b Gregory, Alice (February 9, 2015). "R U There?". The New Yorker. Condé Nast. Retrieved July 15, 2015.
  24. ^ Hempel, Jessi (June 19, 2015). "Texts From Teens Build Real-Time Maps of Crisis in America". Wired. Retrieved August 2, 2023.
  25. ^ Gusman, Phil (Spring 2015). "Safety in numbers". Colgate Scene. Colgate University. Retrieved January 11, 2017.
  26. ^ Jefferson, Robin Seaton (April 15, 2019). "Researchers Attempt To Predict & Prevent Suicide Using Deep Learning And Math". Forbes. Retrieved December 6, 2019.

External links edit

Articles edit