Whenever we talk about mental health and suicide at Hack, we always encourage young people to reach out for help - by calling one of the free mental health hotlines in Australia like Lifeline or Beyondblue.
If you or anyone you know needs help:
- Lifeline on 13 11 14
- Kids Helpline on 1800 551 800
- MensLine Australia on 1300 789 978
- Suicide Call Back Service on 1300 659 467
- Beyond Blue on 1300 224 636
- Headspace on 1800 650 890
- ReachOut at au.reachout.com
- Care Leavers Australasia Network (CLAN) on 1800 008 774
But what if you're someone who struggles to talk on the phone normally - let alone to a complete stranger about your most intimate problems and fears?
Lifeline started Australia's first text-based crisis support service in 2018 to help solve this problem. Lifeline Text runs from 6pm to Midnight every night (in addition to its phone line service which is available 24/7), and allows you to text directly with a lifeline crisis support worker, who'll be there for you on the other side of your phone. Their number is 0477 13 11 14.
Selina, a Lifeline support worker, says texting often allows people to open up more intimately than they would on the phone.
"A lot of people seem to be more comfortable being quite open and honest through the text service than they would normally be able to feel," Selina told Hack.
"I think having the additional level of confidentiality and anonymity through this tech service is really appealing to a lot of people."
Text support a game-changer for young people
Lifeline Text has resonated with young people more than anyone else - more than half of the service's users are aged 24 and under.
The service isn't just reaching people who would normally call Lifeline anyway - 42 per cent of Lifeline Text users said they wouldn't have reached out for help in any other way.
We know how to break the ice when it comes to mental health issues, but how do you keep the conversation going?
"People reach out because they want to connect with somebody. And they know that they can do that with us, it's a confidential service, it's a non-judgemental service," Selina says.
While Lifeline Text is currently limited - the service is only open for six hours a day, and fewer crisis supporters are trained to work the textline than the phones - it's soon to be expanded, after receiving a $500,000 donation last week.
Over the next 12 months, Lifeline Text will double its service - making it available 12 hours per day.
"We want every person to have the option to access our services if they need it, through the avenue that's most comfortable for them. We'll now be able to offer 10,000 additional crisis interventions on top of our other crisis support services and will train 60 new volunteer crisis supporters," Lifeline Australia Chairman John Brogden said.
Lifeline's also looking for volunteers to work on Lifeline Text. If that sounds up your alley, you can send an expression of interest to firstname.lastname@example.org.