Please note that these FAQs are for our service in the UK. For more information about Crisis Text Line outside the UK, please visit crisistextline.org.
HOW DOES CRISIS TEXT LINE WORK?
We are rolling out our service in the UK in 2019 and will be promoting our short code later in the year. Here’s how it works:
- You text our short code when in crisis, available 24/7.
- A live, trained Crisis Counsellor receives the text and responds quickly.
- The Crisis Counsellor helps you move from a hot moment to a cool calm to stay safe and healthy using effective active listening and suggested signposts - all through text message, using Crisis Text Line’s secure platform.
WILL CRISIS TEXT LINE WORK ON MY MOBILE PHONE?
You can text us free and anonymously from EE, O2, Vodafone, 3, Virgin Mobile, BT Mobile, GiffGaff, Tesco Mobile and Telecom Plus. We are working closely with all other mobile operators to bring you the same arrangement, but at this time, we cannot confirm that if you are with a mobile operator that is not listed above that your messages will be free and will not appear on your phone bill. If you are texting from a Samsung Galaxy handset please note that you may receive a notification that you will be charged. However, if you are with one of the networks listed above, you will not be charged even if you receive this message.
WHAT DO YOU MEAN BY "MOVE FROM A HOT MOMENT TO A COOL CALM?"
Our Crisis Counsellors bring texters "from a hot moment to a cool calm" using techniques in empathetic listening. Once they’ve built rapport and trust, explored the issues, and established the texter's goal, they collaboratively problem-solve to help the texter come up with a plan to stay safe.
WHO ARE THE CRISIS COUNSELLORS?
Our Crisis Counsellors are dedicated, trained, supervised volunteers from around the UK. After a rigorous multi-stage application process and training program, each commits to 200 total hours of volunteering. Supervisors (Staff who all have Master's degrees in a relevant field, or commensurate crisis intervention experience) oversee the Crisis Counsellors.
WHAT CAN I EXPECT WHEN I TEXT IN?
You’ll receive an automated text asking you what your crisis is. Within minutes, a live trained Crisis Counsellor will answer your text. They will help you out of your moment of crisis and work with you to create a plan to continue to feel better.
IS CRISIS TEXT LINE CONFIDENTIAL?
Yes. Crisis Counsellors only know what texters share with them, and that information stays between you, unless sharing it with emergency services is absolutely necessary for your safety. We take your confidentiality seriously. Check out our terms of service here. here.
HOW MUCH DOES CRISIS TEXT LINE COST?
We do not charge texters. If your mobile phone plan is with any of the major mobile carriers in the UK, texts to our short code are free of charge. If you use a different carrier or an international carrier, it works just like texting a friend: standard text message rates may apply.
WILL CRISIS TEXT LINE APPEAR ON MY MOBILE PHONE BILL?
You can text us free and anonymously from EE, O2, Vodafone, 3, Virgin Mobile, BT Mobile, GiffGaff, Tesco Mobile and Telecom Plus.
We are working closely with all other mobile operators to bring you the same arrangement, but at this time, we cannot confirm that if you are with a mobile operator that is not listed above that your messages will be free and will not appear on your phone bill.
CAN I TEXT IN MORE THAN ONCE?
You can text in again if you are experiencing a crisis. However, you should not feel dependent on us. Crisis Text Line is not a replacement for long-term counseling, in-person therapy, or a friend.
HOW LONG DO I HAVE TO WAIT FOR A COUNSELLOR?
Our goal is to respond to every texter in under 5 minutes. During high volume times, like at night or when we “go viral” on social media, wait times may be longer.
IS THERE A CHARACTER LIMIT WHEN TEXTING CRISIS TEXT LINE?
Yes, our system is only able to process 160 characters in one message.
WHY AM I RECEIVING AN ERROR MESSAGE OR NO RESPONSE AT ALL?
Sadly, there are some carriers who have not adopted the use of shortcodes--and the small percentage of people with these phones can't use Crisis Text Line via SMS. (We hear that sometimes you get an auto-error response. Sometimes nothing at all. We know this isn't ideal, and will work to improve the situation).
WHAT HAPPENS WHEN A TEXTER IS IN IMMINENT RISK OF SUICIDE?
In cases when a texter is in immediate danger of suicide or homicide, as determined by a risk assessment by the Crisis Counsellor and Supervisor, our first step is to try to work with the texter to form a safety plan. If the texter is unable to plan for their own safety, the Supervisor may contact emergency services, who may dispatch somebody to check on your safety.
IS THERE ANY OTHER WAY TO REACH CRISIS TEXT LINE BESIDES TEXT? We are not yet available on messaging apps in the UK. We apologise for any inconvenience and invite you to use SMS to reach a Crisis Counsellor.
HOW CAN I BECOME A VOLUNTEER?
We are always accepting applications! Apply here.
WHAT ARE THE REQUIREMENTS FOR BECOMING A VOLUNTEER?
To become a Crisis Counsellor, you must:
- Be over 18
- Consent to reference checks
- Agree to help a texter regardless of the reason they are in crisis (e.g., a texter is coming out as gay, is considering an abortion, etc.)
- Be comfortable to address topics frequently discussed with texters (suicide, self-harm, depression, etc.) without compromising your own mental health
- Commit to the 30-hour training over the next month or two
- Commit to 200 total hours of volunteering
- Have a reliable internet connection and a private place to take your shift
HOW DO VOLUNTEERS SEND AND RECEIVE MESSAGES FROM TEXTERS IN CRISIS?
Crisis Counsellors interact with texters through our secure online platform, from a personal laptop or desktop computer, during their scheduled shifts. Neither sees the other's phone number.
WHAT IS THE TIME COMMITMENT OF VOLUNTEERS?
We ask our volunteers to commit to volunteering 200 total hours. 4 hours per week for a year is strongly encouraged.
HOW ARE VOLUNTEERS TRAINED?
Crisis Counsellors graduate from a six-week, 30-hour program that includes: video modules that cover (a) specific skills such as good contact techniques; (b) issues such as self-harm, suicide, depression, bullying, and LGBTQ issues, as well as quizzes, role plays, and observations shifts. Our training has been vetted by representatives from national organizations like The Mix, Childline, Samaritans, and American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.
WHEN IS YOUR NEXT CRISIS COUNSELLOR TRAINING?
We accept applications on a rolling basis. New training cohorts start regularly, so apply whenever you're ready. We’re excited to meet you!
CAN I VOLUNTEER FOR SCHOOL CREDIT?
We love students and welcome them to apply to volunteer with us!
Our 200-hour commitment applies to all Crisis Counsellors, including those who are volunteering to meet a shorter external commitment.
Additionally, Crisis Text Line is currently not able to serve as a field placement for MSW and similar programs, or provide: personal performance evaluations, letters of recommendation, field instruction, or in-person/remote campus visits.
ARE VOLUNTEERS SUPERVISED?
Yes. Our experienced, full-time staff Supervisors oversee and assist our volunteers on the platform.
WHAT ISSUES DO YOU TRACK? CAN YOU ADD MORE?
WHAT ISSUES DO YOU TRACK? See the issues we track in the US at www.crisistrends.org. We plan on adding international data to these dashboards in 2019. If you’re a researcher or practitioner with interest in another issue, submit your suggestion in the form at the bottom of www.crisistrends.org.