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Shout is a 24/7 UK crisis text service available for times when people feel they need immediate support. By texting ‘SHOUT’ to ‘85258’ a Texter will be put in touch with a trained Crisis Volunteer (CV) who will chat to them using trained techniques via text. The service is designed to help individuals to think more clearly and to take their next steps to feeling better.
Anyone of any age, who is a resident in the UK, can text into the service for support.
Shout exists to provide support to anyone, anywhere and at any time who may be experiencing a challenging time with their mental health.
Shout was publicly launched in May 2019, after a year long pilot phase. It is based on the successful US model Crisis Text Line. Shout is part of Mental Health innovations (MHI), which was founded in November 2017. MHI was set up following the success of The Royal Foundation’s ‘Heads Together’ campaign, which identified how utilising digital platforms and tools has huge potential to offer support services to individuals struggling with their mental health.
1. An individual will text ‘SHOUT’ or another partner keyword to ‘85258’ when in crisis. This service is available 24/7 to people in the UK. 2. A Texter will then receive an automated text asking them about the nature of their crisis. This text will also let the individual know that they are being connected to a trained Crisis Volunteer. The aim is to respond to all texters within five minutes, but wait times may be longer during busy periods. 3. Once connected the Crisis Volunteer will introduce themselves. The Texter and Crisis Volunteer will communicate back and forth via text message, using Shout’s secure platform. 4.Our Crisis Volunteers use empathetic and effective active listening techniques, establish goals and use collaborative problem solving to move our Texters from a hot moment, to a cool calm, until the Texter feels calm and safe. 5. Towards the end of the conversation, the Crisis Volunteer can provide signposting to services that provide further help and support for longer-term mental health experiences. Visit the Get Help section for more information.
There are many reasons why people may get in touch with Shout, and our Crisis Volunteers will provide 24/7 support and guidance, no matter what the issue. Shout supports people experiencing any type of personal crisis or mental health concern. It might be that Texters feel anxious or stressed, isolated,lonely or grieving. They may be experiencing eating or body issues or substance misuse. Perhaps they have experienced bullying, depression or sadness, or have relationship worries, or self-harm and suicidal thoughts. Sexual, physical or emotional abuse or concerns about sexual identity may also be prompts for texting in. Find out more by visiting our Get Help section for further information.
Shout provides immediate support for all types of mental health challenges, taking people from crisis to calm every day of the week. This should not be confused with therapy. Our trained CVs provide Texters with advice and techniques to handle future crises, as well as directing texters for where to find longer-term support and/or therapy for their particular concerns.
You can text us for free and anonymously from all major UK networks. It is free and confidential to text our service from the following major networks: EE, O2, Three and Vodafone. These include – BT Mobile, Tesco Mobile, Virgin Mobile, iD Mobile, Sky, Telecom Plus, Lebara and GiffGaff. If you are contacting us from a network listed above, and the service does not appear to be working for you, please reply with your mobile phone number and network provider at email@example.com. We need this information to be able to investigate the circumstances. Some Android phones, including the Samsung Galaxy handset, issue a warning that you will be charged for texting us, provided you are on one of the networks listed here this warning is incorrect and you will not be charged. If you text us from a network that is not on this list there is a possibility that you may be charged for the messages and that they may appear on your bill. This applies to a very small minority of operators. If your mobile network is not listed here, please check with your mobile network operator directly. It is not possible to text the service from some networks, which do not provide the capability to message short codes. These include Lyca mobile. If your message will not send, or if you do not receive an automated message in response, it is an indicator that the service is not working.This is because some networks do not provide the capability to message short codes. You can find alternate ways to get support via www.headstogether.org.uk/get-support/
1. TEXT: It is free to message Shout. To start a conversation text ‘Shout’ to ‘85258’ from anywhere in the UK, 24/7.
2. CONNECT: You will be connected with a trained Crisis Volunteer who will listen without judgement to help you move from crisis to calm. You will text back and forth, only sharing what you feel comfortable with.
3. CALM: The conversation only ends once you are in a calm and safe place; ideally with a plan for support moving forward. Visit the Get Help section on our website for further information.
Our goal is to respond to every texter in under 5 minutes. During times of high volume, (e.g. at night or on high awareness days such as ‘World Mental Health Day’), wait times may be longer.
Yes, our system is only able to process 160 characters in one message.
You can text Shout 24/7 any time you are experiencing a crisis. Shout provides immediate support for all types of mental health challenges, taking people from crisis to calm every day of the week. Our trained CVs provide users with advice and techniques to handle future crises, as well as directing texters for where to find longer-term support and/or therapy for their particular concerns. We cannot provide regular long term support however we can direct you to an appropriate service such as the NHS or other specialist charities.
Given that we are a de-escalation volunteer-driven organisation, we may not be able to provide you with the kind of service you might need, if you are looking for continuous regular support. We recommend that you speak with your local GP or if applicable your mental health support team.
In cases when a Texter is in immediate danger of suicide or homicide, as determined by a risk assessment by the Crisis Volunteer and Supervisor, our first step is to try to work with the Texter to form a safety plan. If the Texter is unable to plan for their own safety, the Supervisor may contact emergency services, who may dispatch a wellness check.
Message us with the word ‘STOP’ at anytime during a conversation to end the conversation. Our Crisis Volunteer will not message you again once you have ended the conversation. If you would like to start the conversation again, text Shout saying ‘START’.
Yes. Only the Supervisors and Volunteer Teams know what Texters share with Shout. That information stays between you and Shout, unless sharing it with emergency services is absolutely necessary for your safety. We take your confidentiality seriously. Please view our terms of service.
We anonymise and aggregate high-level data from conversations in order to study and improve our own performance. We share some of this data with carefully selected and screened academic partners, but the data is always anonymised, individual conversations cannot and will not ever be shared. Following conversations, some of our Texters choose to leave feedback for the service. This feedback is sent to us anonymously and is scrubbed of any personally identifying information. We sometimes share anonymised Texter Feedback on our social media channels. If a texter is believed to be in imminent danger or a safeguarding issue is raised, the clinical supervisor (who monitors all conversations on the platform to ensure the right support is being given) will share the texter’s details with emergency services or appropriate authorities.
The anonymised data we collate helps to provide unique insights into mental health trends to help improve people’s lives across the UK.
Message us with the word LOOFAH following your conversation and we’ll scrub your data from our system.
Our dedicated and trained Crisis Volunteers are real people from all around the UK. After a rigorous multi-stage application process, background checks and training program, each commits to volunteering for 2-4 hours a week.
Yes. Our experienced, full-time Clinical Supervisors* oversee and assist our volunteers on the platform. *Clinical Supervisors all have Master’s degrees in a relevant field, or commensurate crisis intervention experience.
Crisis Volunteers interact with Texters through a secure online platform, they respond to text messages through their personal laptop or desktop computer, during their scheduled shifts. The Text Messages appear like an Instant Messenger. The Crisis Volunteer cannot see the Texter’s phone number.
The training involves 25 online hours which are undertaken at the volunteer’s own pace over a six week period. The training includes online video content and interactive exercises to enable volunteers to learn skills around empathetically engaging with texters on a variety of presenting issues, which may range from exam stress to self harm or suicidal thoughts. The training provides a methodology for assessing and managing a Texter’s situation and/or any risk that the texter might be in as well as a way of helping Texters to develop a plan to support their safety following the conversation.
Our application process for for Volunteers is always open, please apply to be a Shout Crisis Volunteer here.
To become a Crisis Volunteer, you must: 1. Be a resident in the UK – You are only able to volunteer for Shout from the UK. 2. Be at least 18 years old – No one under 18 years can volunteer for Shout. 3. Have a secure internet connection – You need to have access to a computer with a secure, reliable internet connection to volunteer with Shout. You respond to text messages using your laptop and a secure online platform. A mobile phone or tablet device is not suitable. We also recommend Google Chrome browser. 4. Fill out an application – All Volunteers must submit an online application for review by the Shout Admissions Team. Provide two referees – We ask that you provide the names and contact details of two referees that can support you and your application. We ask that one of these referees is professional. We do not accept family members as referees. 5. Volunteer Commitment – we ask our Volunteers to commit to 2-4 hours per week.
If you cannot gain a professional reference, we also accept: – Religious leader – Teacher/Educator (A Personal Tutor, Lecturer, – Careers Advisor) – Doctor/Health Visitor – Lawyer All referees must submit their reference to us through our online form. You can add a new referee to your application at any time by logging into your application dashboard at home.giveusashout.org.
We ask our Volunteers to commit to volunteer 2-4 hours per week.
We accept applications on a rolling basis. A new training cohort starts every two weeks, so you can apply whenever you’re ready. Once you are accepted into the programme, you have two attempts to complete the training – you will be asked to re-apply if you are unable to complete the training after two attempts. Accepted applicants should evaluate their personal commitments and needs when choosing to volunteer with Shout. It is an important commitment and we do ask that you only go ahead with the training if you are ready to take this on. We are a charity and training our Volunteers costs money. We’re excited to meet you!
We love students and welcome them to apply to volunteer with us! Shout is currently unable to serve as a field placement or to sign any third-party community service documentation. We do offer letters of verification once you volunteer with us. These detail the number of hours you have completed, the number of texters you have supported, and also this letter gives a short summary of the work you complete as a Crisis Volunteer. Crisis Volunteers can download a letter of verification from their Profile at any time.
We’re funded and supported by a number of organisations. Please see our Supporters page for more information.
The majority of Shout’s costs are on its clinical and coaching team in order to best support our texters and Crisis Volunteers. We also need to fund our tech, and our data insights, operational and management teams.
Thank you for helping us spread the Shout service to those who might need it. You can find all the materials you need in our Resources section on the website.