Each year, the Skoll Foundation awards entrepreneurs who are creative innovations to change the world. And there’s perhaps no area in greater need of innovative new strategies than mental health.
One of Skoll’s 2019 awards was recently given to Nancy Lublin, creator of the Crisis Text Line.
The idea is deceptively simple: Using text messages to provide free counseling and remove the stigma of seeking mental health services.
But the Crisis Text Line has already received more than 1 million texts, serving an average of 4,000 people per day. Even better, the service is free and primarily reaches young people in low-income and underserved communities.
The system is staffed with crisis counselors who undergo a 34-hour training period and are supported by a full-time staff with masters degrees in relevant fields. The counselors use a virtual toolbox with suggestions for well-being strategies, including a growing database of suggestions for questions to ask, and not to ask, for those who may be in life-threatening situations.
Lublin says that roughly 25 of the text message exchanges each day result in “active rescue” situations where real lives have been saved.
“Someone needed to build a hotline by text. So, we built it,” Lublin says in the video announcing the Skoll Award.
And so far the results speak for themselves. An estimated 68 percent of those who text the Crisis Text Line end up agreeing to establish a health and safety plan and Lublin says they hope to expand their services to 15 countries by the end of 2021.