Prince William launches national 24/7 mental health text service amid call for 3,000 volunteersMegan Orito
Prince William launches national 24/7 mental health text service amid call for 3,000 volunteers.
Shout has helped 60,000 people during its trial year CREDIT: REUTERS
Prince William has issued a call for 3,000 volunteers to launch the UK’s first 24/7 mental health texting service.
The Duke of Cambridge said he wanted to utilise the UK’s “incredible national volunteer community” to link up trained home-based support with people suffering anything from suicidal thoughts to anxiety and loneliness.
He revealed that the Shout service has been quietly trialled over the last year during which it has already helped 60,000 people.
Backed by the Royal Foundation, the joint charitable vehicle for the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, the system has so far enlisted approximately 1,000 volunteers but aims to reach 4,000 by the end of the year.
It is modelled on Crisis Text Line, which since being established in the US in 2013 has processed more than 100 million messages and been credited with saving countless lives.
Announcing the initiative alongside the Duchess of Cambridge at Kensington Palace, the Duke said it would be a “huge difference to people’s lives”.
“As texting is private and silent it opens up a whole new way to find support,” he said.
“You can have a conversation anywhere any time – at school on the bus, anywhere.
“I am incredibly excited to be launching this service, knowing it has the potential to reach thousands of vulnerable people everyday.”
He told how “Harry, Meghan, Katherine and I” had been closely involved with developing Shout over the past 12 months.
The project is the first joint initiative since the Duchess of Sussex joined the Royal family last year, and yesterday’s announcement the first since the couples formally separated their households amid rumours of contrasting working styles.
- SOURCE: NHS
The Duke said the service is a “tangible” legacy of the Heads Together charity, which achieved huge prominence from 2016 as both brothers went public about their own mental health struggles.
Early data from Shout shows suicidal thoughts account for 40 per cent of text contacts, with depression or sadness comprising 38 per cent, followed by relationship problems and anxiety or stress.
Eight pm to midnight was the most popular time to text seeking help.
Volunteers are trained to help users through a moment of crisis and guide them towards mental health services, however, in extreme situations, they are able to alert emergency services directly.
They receive 25 hours of online training and must then commit to between two to four hours on standby each week.
“You can work from home, from your kitchen table, volunteer with your colleagues in offices, your halls of residence, anywhere that is private with a secure internet connection,” said the Duke.
“It’s not for everyone – there are some very difficult conversations, and you need to be able to listen without judgment on a range of issues from suicidal thoughts, to bullying, abuse, sexuality, self-harm and relationships.”
He said there was a “new culture of openness” emerging around mental health which “we need to nurture”.
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