Free Text Service is Helping People Through Their Darkest Days

Numerous studies say North Dakota is in a mental health crisis for all ages. 

Not only does North Dakota have the highest increase in suicide rates overall, suicide is also the second leading cause of death for people between 15 and 24.

We spent today learning about a platform where kids feel comfortable discussing their darkest days.

Crisis Text Line was created out of an urgent need.

Youth Coordinator for the North Dakota Federation of Families Matthew McCleary says, “The ability to feel kind of anonymous while sharing and receiving help at the same time, is probably an incredibly valuable thing to accomplish.”

The service allows anyone to connect with a crisis counselor via text.

But, McCleary says 75 percent of the texts they receive come from people under 25 and 10 percent come from children under 13.

McCleary adds, “On top of that, 65 percent of those that shared information with the Crisis Text Line counselors disclosed that this was the first time they’ve ever shared anything like this to another human being.”

As a child therapist, Heather Mattheis is familiar with the increase in children suffering from mental health disorders.

Mattheis, explains, “Everything is just going at a such a faster rate, so the kids kind of get lost in the shuffle. And when kids are just secluding themselves away, we just kind of let it go.”

The therapist says Crisis Text Line is a great resource, but kids still need to have face-to-face conversations to truly combat mental health.

Nevertheless, more than 76 million text messages have been exchanged since August of 2013.

McCleary adds, “The youth are where they are. You need to reach them where they are, and they are on their cellphones.

To reach a crisis counselor with the text line, simply text ‘Hello’ to 741741.

Not only does the texting service help kids and teens in distress, but the company keeps track of data to help schools and other service providers be better equipped to handle the mental illness crisis. 

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