June 2016 marks the launch of an exciting new era for Lines for Life. This is the month we made texting universal across all of our lines. Greg Borders, Crisis Lines Director, said, “Everyone [who will be texting] here is already a trained crisis clinician, and we want to apply those skills to the new technology.”
Greg notes that crisis workers will get formal training in OES—Online Emotional Support—particularly on the etiquette of texting, how to use the technology effectively, and how to understand the “social norms around texting—how do you provide support in a different modality.”
According to a 2015 New York Times article, “The average adolescent sends almost two thousand text messages a month.” The Times goes on to say, “For teens, texting isn’t a novel form of communication; it’s the default.”
Dave Dalton, Workforce Development Supervisor, said YouthLine began handling texts in 2012. Last year YouthLine took 3758 texts and 3147 telephone calls (making it clear that a slight majority of youths who contact us prefer to do so by text).
Texting has a kind of anonymity to it, and that’s important to people who are concerned about revealing their identity. It just feels safer in some cases, and feeling safe is important in encouraging people to open up.
David Westbrook, Chief Operations Officer, said, “We expect texting will break down barriers and make it easier for many people in crisis, or to help people reach out to us when they need alcohol-and-drug treatment. Texting has been a huge success on our YouthLine. Expanding it to our Alcohol and Drug Helpline and Crisis Line just makes sense.”