Crisis Text Line provides free, 24/7, confidential support for anyone in crisis, all via text. Since launching in 2013, we have exchanged over 137 million messages with people in crisis all across the country. We currently partner directly with Reddit to help keep redditors safe on a regular basis. We’re here today to answer any questions you may have about how COVID-19 is taking a toll on the mental health of people all over the US, and the best ways to cope with anxiety or isolation.

If you need help now, text CHAT to 741741 to connect with a trained Crisis Counselor at Crisis Text Line.

Answering questions today we have:

  • Bob Filbin: As Co-Founder & Chief Data Scientist of Crisis Text Line, I lead all things data including developing new avenues of data collection, storing data in a way that makes it universally accessible, and leading the Data, Ethics, and Research Advisory Board. I’ve given keynote lectures on using data to drive action at the YMCA National CIOs Conference, American Association of Suicidology Conference, MIT Solve, and SXSW. I graduated from Colgate University and have an MA in Quantitative Methods from Columbia.
  • Fran McTernan: As Director of Service Operations of Crisis Text Line, I lead the effort to keep our Platform running smoothly so we can support staff, volunteers, and texters efficiently and productively. I began as a crisis hotline volunteer in 2003 while working in the technology sector. In 2015 I became a volunteer Crisis Counselor with Crisis Text Line, and in 2017 I became a staff member as a full time Crisis Counselor Supervisor. I have a BS in Computer Science from Stony Brook University and an MSW from Kean University.
  • Shinise Muse: As Director of Supervision of Crisis Text Line, I lead all things Supervision including Heads of Supervision whom the Crisis Counselor Supervisors report to. I make sure policies, workflows and the operations of the Supervision team promotes growth, leadership ability and are able to maximize support and guidance of the Crisis Counselors and texters. I started my journey with Crisis Text Line in 2005 as a volunteer Crisis Counselor. In 2006, I became a staff member as a full time Crisis Counselor Supervisor. I am a licensed Minister and lead the Minister in Training program and Crisis Initiative at my local church.

Proof: https://twitter.com/CrisisTextLine/status/1240771855520333834

Comments: 168 • Responses: 25  • Date: 

super_soprano1368 karma

How are you coping with second hand trauma? I caption calls and am emotionally exhausted from the stress, anxiety, and fear, as well as the misinformation and denial.

I'd like to also ask how you're doing, I think we forget how hard this situation is on care workers.

Crisis_Text_Line36 karma

Thanks so much for checking in with us! We encourage our Crisis Counselors to practice self-care during and after their shifts. Some practices we have in place for them is helpguide.org and Dartmouth Relaxation Downloads (https://bit.ly/DRD_ref). We also have a supervisor/coach to oversee so they know they're not alone in this. They're also able to get community support through our network of other Crisis Counselors! (SM)

seouled-out31 karma

Here in South Korea, depression and anxiety are critical issues of public health. Korean has the highest female suicide rate per capita amongst OECD nations, and the male rate is third-highest.

The concept of mental wellness has gained considerable traction in recent years, but professional interventions and therapies remain largely taboo.

Crisis Text Line would have tremendous impact here, as well as in Japan, but I imagine the language barrier is a significant challenge. Has CTL looked into the possibility of providing solutions for Korean- or Japanese-speaking populations? What prevents CTL from establishing such services?

Crisis_Text_Line24 karma

Crisis Text Line is taking steps to establish a global resource for people in Crisis. Our first step was to start expanding to other English-speaking countries. We're currently live in the UK, Ireland, and Canada. Next, we're starting to look at expanding into Spanish. Once we've established a successful model for expanding into new languages, we hope to continue to expand to cover countries including South Korea and Japan. So, know that we're on it! The main thing holding us back from expanding faster is the main thing holding back high impact non-profits; funding! If you happen to know anyone who can support our expansion, we're excited to chat :) -BF

jfoahs0427 karma

How has the nature of messages received changed in light of the COVID-19 outbreak?

Crisis_Text_Line55 karma

High-Level: Our data is showing a first wave of mental health effects from COVID-19: anxiety mirroring where the virus is showing up. We're expecting the second wave will be impact of the quarantines--child abuse, substance abuse, domestic violence, etc, as people may be trapped at home with abusers and away from self care routines.

Some specific patterns:

(1) Our texters are skewing older than we normally see (53% 18 - 34 year olds, up from 42% normally); we’re also seeing higher rates of LGBTQ+ texters (51%, up from 45% normally), and low-income texters (55%, up from 50% normally).

(2) School closings, financial issues, and social media issues are trending co-occuring issues.

(3) 77% (!) of all texters are experiencing stress or anxiety related to coronavirus. For this group, our quality rating is 90% (three points higher than our overall average).

(BF)

undulationstation16 karma

I was a crisis counselor for CTL a few years ago when there were about 2000 counselors total. Has there has been a large influx of new counselors due to the recent pandemic?

Thank you for all you do!

Crisis_Text_Line21 karma

We've had ~5500 Crisis Counselors (CCs) active in the last 28 days, and almost 30K trained. Yes, we've seen a recent influx - 5000 CC applications have been started in the last month, with half of that (2500) in the last week alone! (FM)

thundergifts15 karma

What do you recommend on what to do for self care during these times? I was just coming out of a slump right before this outbreak, but now it’s hard to find motivation to do anything, especially since my city is now in shelter in place. I’m also living alone, which does make the situation even harder. Lately, I’ve just been taking a lot of edibles and binging TV shows to get through the time. While a temporary fix, this won’t be sustainable for the long haul.

My ideal goal is to come out of this outbreak a better person than I was when I came into it. Would appreciate any routine tips or ideas on how to somehow achieve this.

Crisis_Text_Line4 karma

Your feelings are completely valid and we hear you. Its good you're look for sustainable self care practices. 99 coping skills (http://bit.ly/99_ref) is a list we share with our texters for ideas. Also, it could be a great to time to volunteer, think of a goal and learn how to accomplish it or do something amazing you've always wanted to do. (SM)

Chtorrr12 karma

What would you most like to tell us that folks rarely ask about?

Crisis_Text_Line30 karma

Those of us working directly on the Platform often get asked, “How can you do this type of work?” and what we rarely get asked is “WHY do you do this work?” Our team of supervisors and Platform Operations Managers do this work because of the pure magic that we witness 24/7/365: People who reach out in crisis, all sorts of crisis, chat with our non-judgemental, empathetic Crisis Counselors, and they feel better. They feel heard. They feel supported. “Simply” because we listen and we care. The work we do every day is extraordinary. (FM)

Sancho_Ponchez10 karma

Why is it that "anxiety and isolation," are suddenly hot topics when literally tens of millions of Americans already live with this condition. How come mental health only enters into public discourse when Joe Six Pack cannot watch the game on Sunday anymore? I have little sympathy for this "crisis " of isolation. This same public had ridiculed me for these exact same symptoms for 40 years. Why should anyone care about the privileged having a bad week?

Crisis_Text_Line14 karma

I totally hear where you are coming from. Anxiety and isolation are suddenly hot topics because with the entire world's life changed in many different ways due to the pandemic. Feeling anxious and isolated may not have been something many people have been exposed to this level or they many have felt isolated or anxious about anything until now. In regular daily life, many people have built routines, or daily self care or the freedom of not having limitations that are now forced on them nationwide. Triggers can come from anywhere and effect a person's mental health in many ways. We are here to help everyone rather they are new to feeling anxious and don't know that's why they are feeling a particular way or they've lived through this for a very long time and what's going on now isn't any different. We are here to support everyone in their mental health journey. Everyone is subject to anxiety and isolation. No one is exempt. We are in the business of spreading empathy and hope that everyone bonds together and support each other. (SM)

HeavyMetalMonkey9 karma

Tips for derealization? My body resorts to derealization when my anxiety ticks up. Shit feels fake and weird. It's offputting to say the least.

Crisis_Text_Line12 karma

You're not alone with your mind and body dealing with stress in a variety of ways. Two of my favorite referrals that we provide to our texters who want to try to ground themselves and refocus are (1) "the 54321 grounding exercise" - link is here: https://bit.ly/54321_ref - and (2) "99 Coping Skills" that provides an interactive list and print-out of 99 coping skills and strategies - link is here: http://bit.ly/99_ref. And btw, check out our full list of referrals, open to all, on our website here: https://www.crisistextline.org/referrals (FM)

scarlettkat7 karma

What do you suggest for those whose coping skills involve getting out of the house (e.g. going to a store and engaging the senses to ground in reality, sitting at a park people-watching, going to get a favorite food that is hard to make oneself, etc)?

Thank you all!

Crisis_Text_Line5 karma

How about taking advantage of today’s technology and do face/face calls with friends and family to stay connected - maybe even setting up “appointments” to check in with each other. While we can’t go out and be in crowds of people right now, taking a walk to get out into nature seems like a great idea for all of us. You’re more resourceful than you may even realize. (FM)

maktheyak476 karma

Are there any specific TIMES of day that are seeing a difference in conversation numbers/times that need more crisis counselors, different than what we usually see?

Crisis_Text_Line12 karma

Over the last week, texter volume is up ~50%. And we expect we're still at the bottom; volume should continue to climb as the pandemic expands in the U.S. and around the world. (Now, 1 in 5 texters directly mentions coronavirus, and 4 in 5 said their experiencing anxiety related to coronavirus.) So in general, we need more Crisis Counselors, any time of day! The patterns by time of day are similar - still, we need Crisis Counselors primarily at night, between 10pm - 6am ET, but any time of day is great :) -BF

Theonetheycall18452 karma

How do you become a crisis counselor?

Crisis_Text_Line4 karma

Check out https://www.crisistextline.org/volunteer and Join Us! (FM)

CaptainHalfBeard6 karma

I deliver deli meat and cheese to groceries and local restaurants. My work pays all their employees salary, but not real salary just we will put you down for 40 hours a week whether you worked over or under that amount (its always over). Yesterday I worked 13 straight hours with no given breaks.

Is there any type of legal action that I can take to make sure my company doesn't take advantage of me this aggressively on top of the risk of getting myself sick or my family?

Crisis_Text_Line8 karma

We can hear how stressful and overwhelming this situation must be for you and your family. While we can’t provide legal services, we are here for you, your family, and your friends who may need to reach out to talk and be heard (text SHARE to 741741 to chat 24/7). (FM)

winklebone5 karma

Is this open to people in the uk?

Crisis_Text_Line3 karma

Yes! Check out our partner service, https://www.giveusashout.org/ -BF

toshslinger_5 karma

Last year attempted suicides were about 1,500,000 and successful suicides were almost 50,000. How much do you think that will increase by the end of this year with prolonged months of isolation , stress, unemployment, and substance abuse as a result of this crisis?

Crisis_Text_Line8 karma

While a specific estimate is incredibly hard, so I won't attempt putting a number to it, academic researchers I've talked to say we should expect two waves of mental health crisis related to COVID-19: The first wave is anxiety around the pandemic itself, the second is the fallout from COVID, including unemployment, bear economy / falling stock prices, etc. For the second wave, experts predict it will lead to longterm (1-2 year) increases in depression and suicide. Personally, I think the important first step is awareness, like you're raising: that we expect increases in depression, suicidality, and substance abuse as a downstream effect of COVID. At Crisis Text Line, we're trying to raise awareness, and we're preparing to respond to the increased volume. -BF

Even_Appeal5 karma

Are other young immunocompromised people struggling as much as I am or am I just being dramatic?

Crisis_Text_Line8 karma

You are not being dramatic, and many of us are struggling right now trying to deal with unprecedented events in our lifetime. We’re all unique, and we all deal with stress in different ways; that’s OK. We also reminder our texters that “it’s OK to NOT be OK”, so feel those feelings and try to find just one thing you can do for yourself today (check out https://www.crisistextline.org/referrals for ideas of things to try). (FM)

futureroboticist4 karma

Can users choose counselors with certain ethnical, racial, cultural traits, gender or sexual orientation?

Crisis_Text_Line16 karma

Currently, we don't allow texters to choose Crisis Counselors with certain demographics. The good news: we've looked at what happens when we match / don't match texters and CCs by age, gender, veteran status, and geographic location, and every time, we find that when demographics are different, quality stays just as high. We think a big part of this is texting provides a veil; you can't see the other person, and therefore, empathy comes through. (We also train our CCs in two core skills that are critical for supporting someone in crisis, and are largely universal in their helpfulness: active listening and collaborative problem solving.) - BF

Corbayne4 karma

The current epidemic has lifted a very sense of depression for me. I am instilled with a sense of hope. That hope stems for the global exposure of the historic evils of capitalism and systemic greed among humans. I will likely be poor forever, but, I feel richer than ever gazing at the light of evil flailing and wanting to hide. Should I take this newfound sense of positivity as healthy? Or, how should I interpret the overarching feeling that Covid-19 is actively impacting the world for the better? Even if it had only negatively impacted mine personally, it feels better than before, like, January and back.

Crisis_Text_Line3 karma

It's great you are feeling better about the world in light of a new perspective. World view does play an impact on mental health. The world very well may be changing and it's great you are already thinking of ways to adjust to the world around you. (SM)

Heterozygoats2 karma

What constitutes a crisis? Do I need to be actively suicidal to text this line? I am struggling with isolation and depression and anxiety but am not at the level of hurting myself.

Crisis_Text_Line4 karma

Our texters are the ones who define "crisis", and if you're feeling isolated, anxious, or depressed, we're here for you. We support texters across a whole range of issues, in addition to being there for people who may feel they may hurt themselves. You can text CHAT to 741741 to connect with one of our Crisis Counselors, 24/7. (FM)

EmDashxx2 karma

Hello! I work at a community mental health center. What can we do to help support our communities? Are people asking for any specific resources or services? I’d love to hear from others on what we can provide to help in this time of crisis. I’m very new to this position and this clinic so I’d love it if you had some ideas that I could share with my staff!

Crisis_Text_Line1 karma

First off, thank you for all you do! I'm certain your community is thankful for that. Please share with them that if they are feeling anxious, isolated, or in any type of emotional crisis, they can text CHAT to 741741 to connect with a trained Crisis Counselor at Crisis Text Line. It's free, confidential, and 24/7. -SM

DifficultSelection2 karma

What resources would you recommend for people such as my wife and me, who aren't in crisis, but who are experiencing a degree of anxiety that is starting to negatively impact our day-to-day lives at a moderate level?

We live in Kirkland literally about a thousand feet from Life Care. I'm asthmatic, and she is self-isolating to help keep me safe. She is at risk of losing her job soon, after only 5 days of self-isolating. I work remote, but I only started my job last week, and it's very difficult to concentrate. Our situation is unique, but I'm sure the things we're feeling and the impact those feelings have are common at the moment.

Crisis_Text_Line1 karma

Our texters are the ones who define "crisis", and if someone is feeling anxious, we're here for them. Two of my favorite referrals that we provide to our texters who want to try to ground themselves and refocus are (1) "the 54321 grounding exercise" - link is here: https://bit.ly/54321_ref - and (2) "99 Coping Skills" that provides an interactive list and print-out of 99 coping skills and strategies - link is here: http://bit.ly/99_ref. And btw, check out our full list of referrals, open to all, on our website here: https://www.crisistextline.org/referrals (FM)

Killshot_65-652 karma

The anxiety I have been feeling is less to do with the social distancing and more to do with the fact I just graduated college, I'm married (my wife was laid off due to COVID), and I had planned on taking the MCAT and applying to med school this year. I'm anxious due to the social and economic repercussions that are going to happen due to this and where that will put me in applying to med school. Any suggestions?

Crisis_Text_Line3 karma

First, that sounds incredibly hard to be dealing with a change in your day-to-day given you just graduated, your wife being laid off due to COVID, and the stress of uncertainty around med school. One pattern that we've seen be helpful for some texters is acknowledging that there is an emotional component to each problem they're facing, and creating solutions for the emotional component and the "tactical" component separately. For example, acknowledging and managing anxiety around med school is real, it's normal, and you're not alone in it; creating solutions to manage anxiety are important (meditation, talking about it with loved one, etc).

The other side is, how can you reduce the uncertainty around where COVID puts you in applying to med school? I.e., what steps can you take, however small? In particular, we're seeing that when our texters think about timeboxing their actions, it helps break down the problem into manageable chunks: i.e., "what can I do to make progress on this problem today, this week, this month?" One of the hardest parts about COVID is the uncertainty: how long it will last, how much it will affect those we care about, and how it will impact our communities and our livelihoods. Finding ways to chip away at uncertainty, by breaking down the problem into chunks is a process that we're seeing work for many texters. Good luck! -BF

Crisis_Text_Line2 karma

Thank you all for the great questions. We're logging off for the day, but if you'd like more information, please visit our website: www.crisistextline.org.

If you need help now, text CHAT to 741741 to reach one of our Crisis Counselors.

reebaarts1 karma

Do you provide help for people from outside US?

Crisis_Text_Line1 karma

chaddaddycwizzie1 karma

I just got a contract extension for my current job which I should be excited about and on one hand I am because it supports me very well financially and I have health insurance through this work, even while on a contract. On the other hand it has increased my anxiety even more as I feel like I’m almost certain to get infected at some point likely when everybody else is, which would be the worst case since hospitals will be so overwhelmed. I’m wanting to look for work that I can do remotely and looking into taking classes, I was looking for a career change even before the coronavirus stuff but never got serious about it. Is it selfish of me to want out of a work site supply chain “essential” work for my own well being? I understand millions are on this position of going in to work but then I also feel that many are not taking this threat as seriously as I am, or maybe I am just overreacting. I value my health more than my work or money and if I get infected and I’m going in to work I will feel like I didn’t do enough to minimize my risk. (I’m not in an at-risk category but still very nervous about it) What are some ways I can manage my stress and anxiety? I’m looking for some good meditation/relaxation resources also

Crisis_Text_Line1 karma

First, congratulations! Financially security is important. Prioritizing your safety is not selfish. Employers are also restructuring to ensure your wellbeing is a top priority. Panic and worry doesn't mean you are taking this seriously. Educating yourself and following recommendations means you are taking this seriously. Not everyone effected is fatal or have to be hospitalized. There's more info out there about recovery and risk. Anxiety is sometimes your brains way of searching for answers to major questions. Writing a list of questions and looking in reputable places for the answers could help ease anxiety. (99 Coping skills - http://bit.ly/99_ref, Self-help Anxiety Management App- http://bit.ly/SAMios_ref and Dartmouth Relaxation Downloads https://bit.ly/DRD_ref) are some great resources we share with our Crisis Counselors. (SM)

Friedchicken961 karma

I'm prone to depression and very much need a structured routine to keep myself stable. I find it difficult however to get things done at home that I'd like to do. Can you give me any tips at starting an at home daily routine?

Crisis_Text_Line2 karma

Some tips to start is find out what you like. Are you a routine person or spontaneous? The answer will help you structure you self care time as night time or miracle morning routine or you can use this list of ideas to choose from. We share this (99 Coping skills - http://bit.ly/99_ref) list with our Crisis Counselors. (SM)