300 volunteers sought for new 24/7 mental health text support service in Ireland
Crisis Text Line will be the first free 24/7 text service in Ireland.
A new text service for young people who are feeling suicidal or facing a mental health crisis is seeking to recruit 300 volunteers ahead of its launch in Ireland later this year.
Crisis Text Line is Ireland’s first free 24/7 text service for anyone in crisis any time, anywhere. It will be funded by the Health Service Executive (HSE), who say it will be a place to go for people struggling to cope and in need of immediate help.
The Crisis Text Line platform will connect texters with a Crisis Volunteer working remotely, most likely at home, who has been trained to listen, reassure and guide people who avail of the service.
All conversations are anonymous, unless the texter wants to give their name, and are reviewed in real time by a team of qualified staff supervisors who will support volunteers to deliver the service.
The platform uses artificial intelligence (AI) to scan the initial messages from texters for keywords to identify those likely to be at immediate risk and prioritise those conversations in the queue.
Crisis Text Line already operates in the United States, United Kingdom and Canada and will launch in Australia and South Africa before the end of the year.
Ahead of the launch of the service later this year, Crisis Text Line is seeking to recruit 300 Crisis Volunteers.
Crisis Volunteers need an ability to listen without judgement, a good internet connection and a private place in their home to communicate with texters.
Those selected to become volunteers must complete a 30-hour training course over a six-week period and commit to a four-hour shift on the platform every week for one year.
Volunteers can support texters from anywhere as long as it’s a private space.
Applications to become a Crisis Volunteer can be made at crisistextline.ie, where more information is also available.
Speaking about the announcement of the new service, Minister for Mental Health and Older People Jim Daly T.D. said:
“As texting is private and at your own pace, it opens up a new way for people in Ireland to get help for whatever crisis it is they might be experiencing.
“As you can also volunteer from anywhere, this is a great way for anyone looking for a flexible volunteering opportunity to get involved in a worthwhile service such as Crisis Text Line. I am delighted to be able to support Crisis Text Line in their use of new technologies to respond to people in crisis.”
Jim Ryan, Assistant National Director for Mental Health Operations, HSE added:
“The HSE is very pleased to fund and support the introduction of Crisis Text Line to Ireland later this year. This easily accessible service will complement existing mental health and suicide prevention supports, services and initiatives across the country.
“While it is a service open to the wider population, we feel it will particularly resonate with younger people or with those who feel isolated from more traditional supports.
“There are numerous HSE initiatives underway to develop new digital mental health supports in Ireland, and this project is one of those strands of work. It reinforces our commitments to deliver on recommendations that were outlined in the 2017 Youth Mental Health Task Force Report.”
The HSE say that the anonymised data collated by the service will provide insights into mental health trends and will be available to researchers and service providers.
The service is being established following a recommendation from the national taskforce on youth mental health, which reported to government in 2017 to “ensure increased investment in age-appropriate, scalable digital youth mental health supports”.
Crisis Text Line is being operated by Community Creations, the not-for-profit company behind the award-winning youth website SpunOut.ie.
See below for contact details for mental health services currently available in Ireland.
Pieta House 1800 247 247
Samaritans 116 123
Aware 1800 80 48 48
Teen-Line Ireland 1800 833 634 (for ages 13 to 19)
Childline 1800 66 66 66 (for under 18s)