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Crisis Text Line

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The Crisis Text Line is a crisis hotline that lets those in crisis text a volunteer crisis counselor. Since they launched in 2013, millions of texts have been exchanged between those asking for help and those providing it.

This 10-minute TED talk by the founder Nancy Lublin provides an inspiring overview.

Video Link : 1632

For students in crisis

I’m adding this statement to my syllabus:

Counseling Center.  Are you feeling stressed about college? Tests? Your future? A relationship? A loss? Adjusting to a new culture? An addiction, yours or someone else's? Living? Visit Highline's Counseling Center (counseling.highline.edu) in Building 6, upstairs on the north side of the building. Email: counseling@highline.edu. Phone: (206) 592-3353

If the Counseling Center is closed and you need to talk with someone now, call the King County Crisis Clinic at (206) 461-3222.

If you'd rather text with someone, contact the Crisis Text Line by texting HELLO to 741-741.

For texters concerned about privacy, the volunteer counselors don’t see their phone numbers. It’s all done through an encrypted computer interface. And for those who are really concerned, they can text “loofah” (or similar spellings) to have their texts scrubbed from the system (Dupere, 2016).

Is your psych club, Psi Beta chapter or Psi Chi chapter looking for a project?

Print and post flyers on your campus. You can use the Crisis Text Line’s pre-made flyer.

Or do a fundraiser. Crisis Text Line accepts donations.

How to become a volunteer

Volunteers apply, and those who are accepted undergo 34 hours of online training. Volunteers commit to doing one 4-hour shift per week for a year.

Do you have students who are over 18 years old who might be interested in volunteering? Download the Crisis Text Line volunteer flyer: http://www.crisistextline.org/wp-content/uploads/CTLVolunteerFlyer.pdf. It’s not a guaranteed gig; 39% of those who apply are accepted to begin the training (Dupere, 2016).

Show me the data

All of those 18 million texts provide a boat-load of data. And those data are publicly available at http://crisistrends.org.

Texts about depression increase throughout the day, peaking at 8pm.

Texts about family issues are most common on Sundays.

The state with the most LGBTQ-related texts? Alaska. The least? Vermont.

The state with the most bullying-related texts? Vermont. The least? New Hampshire.

Starting in Spring 2014, texts about anxiety and texts about suicidal thoughts co-occur.

Anxiety and suicidal thoughts graph.JPG

You can also choose a topic to see a sample text and a word cloud of the top 50 words that appear in texts related to that topic. Here’s what I got when I selected anxiety.

anxiety word cloud.JPG

If you’re a researcher interested in using their data, their FAQ says, “Data access is available to approved academic researchers. The application will be available here in late January 2016.” As of this writing (June 2016), I don’t see an application. If you’re interested, email them at info@crisistextline.org.   

Dupere, K. (2016, May 28). This text line is helping teens talk about mental health without saying a word. Retrieved May 31, 2016, from http://mashable.com/2016/05/28/crisis-text-line/

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About the Author
Sue Frantz has taught psychology in community colleges since 1992, and has been at Highline College in the Seattle area since 2001. She has served on several APA boards and committees, and was proud to serve the members of the Society for the Teaching of Psychology as their 2018 president. In 2013, she was the inaugural recipient of the APA award for Excellence in the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning at a Two-Year College or Campus. She received in 2016 the highest award for the teaching of psychology--the Charles L. Brewer Distinguished Teaching of Psychology Award . She presents nationally and internationally on the topics of educational technology and the pedagogy of psychology. She is co-author with Doug Bernstein and Steve Chew of Teaching Psychology: A Step-by-Step Guide, 3rd ed.