A new all-hours text support service to help anyone going through a mental health or emotional crisis has been officially launched.
50808 will provide immediate support to those going through a breakup, bullying, depression or suicidal feelings.
"What I particularly like about @Text50808 is that it's a 24/7 service. Mental health challenges do not just happen between 9 to 5, Monday to Friday" - Minister for Health @SimonHarrisTD #Text50808 pic.twitter.com/EHn9riwyfe
— SpunOut.ie (@SpunOut) June 16, 2020
People can start a conversation with crisis volunteers by texting "TALK" to 50808.
Since the service began its pilot in September last year, it has provided support to 3,801 people through 6,694 conversations.
Of those calls;
- 832 people were thinking about suicide
- 360 people were self-harming
- The top issues discussed were: Anxiety/stress (40%), Depression/sadness (32%), Relationships (29%), Isolation/loneliness (23%) and Suicide (18%)
- 80% of texters have been between the ages of 16 and 34
- Reasons for texting: Didn't have anyone else to talk to (50%), Wanted to talk to someone who didn't know me (48%), More comfortable texting than talking (40%), Too embarrassed to talk on the phone or in person (31%), Didn't have access to a therapist (31%)
The service uses an artificial intelligence (AI) system to analyse a texter’s initial message, scanning keywords, phrases, and even emojis to determine the level of severity. The texter’s at most imminent risk are placed at the top of the queue.
Anne O'Connor, Chief Operations Officer, HSE, said “The impact of this pandemic will be different for all of us and while not everyone will need mental health support, for those that do it’s important to have a variety of services that meet those needs. Picking up the phone and asking for help can appear daunting, but texting 50808 will connect you to a trained listening Crisis Volunteer. Parallel to this important service, the HSE, through our Psychosocial Response Project, is aligning the different levels of supports that are available online, by phone and text to improve accessibility to mental health resources for those who might be struggling at this time."