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Brief Published: 28 May 2019

Mental Health Text Helpline Launches in UK

The first 24/7 crisis text support platform has launched in the UK. Shout connects people with volunteers who give emotional support anytime, anywhere. A quarter of the global population have mental health conditions, so easy access to help is crucial to improving worldwide health (WHO, 2018).

Whether at school, at work, at home or on the go, Shout's texting helpline can provide support in any situation. Because the service is confidential, it helps to remove the social stigma that often prevents people seeking help on the subjects of suicide, depression and abuse.

Trained volunteers respond to text messages, guiding the user to a calm state of mind and implementing longer-term treatment solutions. Clinically trained psychiatrists monitor conversations and can intervene if a situation develops beyond the volunteer's capabilities.

Shout uses artificial intelligence to prioritise texts by recognising and flagging certain troubling words or phrases, such as suicide and forced marriage. The charity aims to use anonymised data from the helpline to learn more about mental health trends in Britain and provide better treatment. The service is based on SMS texting as opposed to an app, so it remains accessible to vulnerable people without a smartphone.

The service, launched on May 10, is part of the British Royal family's Heads Together mental health charity and received £3m ($3.8m) in funding from The Royal Foundation.

We discuss the importance of providing non-judgmental, empathetic tech to support mental health in our Enlightened Masculinity and Gen Lonely reports. For a deeper examination of the positive role technology can have on mental wellbeing, see Crafting Modern Connections, part of The Kinship Economy Macro Trend.

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