The state is providing $500,000 per year for the next two years on top of $625,000 in base funding per year to expand the program statewide, National Alliance on Mental Illness of Minnesota Executive Director Sue Abderholden told MobiHealthNews in an email.
The additional $1 million funding for Txt4Life came out of DHS' $46 million fund set aside for mental health services.
Txt4Life aims to help Minnesota residents with relationship issues, general mental health, and suicide. The service is available to users from 12 p.m. to 3 a.m. CST seven days a week. Users can text “Life” to 61222* if they need help. They then wait for a trained counselor to respond to their text and discuss the issues concerning them.
Txt4Life's Richfield-based center is equipped with software that can maintain up to 500 individual text conversations between trained counselors and users. The TXT4Life program also works in partnership with the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, which answers lifeline calls from Minnesota area codes.
The program first launched in 2010 and was available to residents in the seven-county northeastern region of Minnesota. The initiative was led by Carlton County Public Health, in collaboration with area school districts and Canvas Health. At the time, it was funded through state grants and a Substance Abuse Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) grant until 2011. It later became a Canvas Health service.
A number of studies conducted in the past have found that texting for health programs can be effective.
Last month, an analysis of national Amerigroup claims data found that Amerigroup Washington members who both had a TracFone Lifeline phone and had enrolled in Connect4health, Voxiva’s health texting program, were three times more likely to attend their annual physical exam within 90 days of receiving text reminders.
In April, a study conducted by Mathematica Policy Research and Public Health Institute found that Text4baby subscribers are engaged with the texting program, would recommend it to others, and have gained knowledge about critical maternal and child health topics after using it.