The Duke of Cambridge unveiled last week the launch of text messaging helpline Shout in the UK, a digital mental health service aiming to provide help for people in moments of crisis.
Shout is part of a series of initiatives supported and launched by the royal family in recent years to break the stigma around mental health conversations, following the Heads Together campaign.
The service is modelled after the US Crisis Text Line, which has reportedly processed more than 100 million messages since being created in 2013. Its founder and CEO Nancy Lublin now sits on the board of Shout.
Making the announcement, Prince William called for members of the public to join Shout and help grow their volunteer community from 1,000 volunteers currently to 4,000 by the end of the year.
Applicants, who have to be over 18 years old to participate, will need access to a computer and secure internet connection, and will have to commit to undertaking 25 hours of initial training. After, they will have to volunteer two to four hours a week for one year.
WHY IT MATTERS
According to the Royal Foundation, 1,000 people have already received training and are volunteering online, supervised by qualified clinicians, after a pilot of the service was launched in May last year in partnership with The Mix charity. Figures indicate that the service has so far facilitated around 60,000 conversations.
“We know that tools are needed to have conversations about mental health and to support people in times of crisis,” said Victoria Hornby, chief executive of the Mental Health Innovations charity, founded in 2017 with the support of the Royal Foundation.
“At Shout, we are using technology to provide a safe space for anyone who needs it to have conversations wherever they are and whenever they need someone to talk to. We also want to make it easier for people to volunteer, to ensure this service can continue to grow and reach those who need it,” Hornby added.
Mental Health Innovations also recently teamed up with the Institute of Global Health Innovation at Imperial College London to collect insights and help build digital tools for mental health.
ON THE RECORD
“We are incredibly excited to be launching this service, knowing it has the potential to reach thousands of vulnerable people every day," the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and the Duke and Duchess of Sussex said in a statement.
"Over the last few months Shout has started working quietly behind the scenes. We have all been able to see the service working up close and are so excited for its future.
“At the heart of this service will be an incredible national volunteer community, one which needs to grow to allow us to support more people in crisis. We hope that many more of you will join us and be part of something very special.”