Help is a text away
So far, Block Island is one of the safest places to be as the world fights against the Corona virus. Being trapped in paradise, however, does not mean that our lives are less stressful. Many of us have not been able to visit our loved ones, especially those in nursing home facilities. We also worry for the safety and well-being of our workers on the front lines: police, firefighters, rescue team, healthcare workers, grocery store attendants, and postal workers. In addition, the response to the virus has given us an X-ray view into the inequalities that have long existed in our society, laying bare a picture of those who are the most vulnerable: our Hispanic community, people of color, and the disadvantaged. All of us are facing an uncertain future: what will the new normal look like for our families and community? When will it be safe to work, go to school, visit friends and family? It is no small wonder that our mental health is under attack. Fortunately, Block Island has behavioral health services available, both in-person as well as through telemedicine. At this time, however, I wish to highlight a lesser-known service, one that is free and available in all 50 states. It is easy to use, immediately available, regardless of age, gender, religion, sexual orientation, political affiliation, etc. It is called the Crisis Text Line.
The service was created in 2013 as an outgrowth of DoSomething.org, the largest organization for young people and social change. CEO Nancy Lublin came up with the idea after observing the large number of texts for personal help from its members. Crisis Text Line is a free, 24/7 crisis support service by text message. Its counselors are trained volunteers who, with the support of full-time Crisis Text Line staff, use active listening, collaborative problem solving, and safety planning to help texters in their moment of crisis. The priority is helping people move from a hot moment to a cool calm, guiding them to create a plan to stay safe and healthy.
In her email to me, Beth Lamarre, Executive Director of NAMI-RI, stated that NAMI “absolutely recommends and endorses the use of the text line,” which is also listed on their web site. She defines a crisis as any painful emotion, including immediate danger to self and others. On its web site, the Text Line lists the following
conditions as examples of a crisis situation: abuse, anxiety, bullying, depression, eating disorders, gender and sexuality, grief, isolation, relationships, self-harm, substance use, and suicide. It may not surprise you to learn that schools are the number one location mentioned by texters. The top issues for college-age texters are depression, anxiety, and relationships. Now more than ever, students, teachers, administrators, and parents need mental health support during the COVID 19 pandemic. To learn more about the service, visit www.crisistextline.org.
To use the Crisis Text line, simply text any word, such as School, or Home to 741741. A trained crisis counselor will respond quickly through a secure platform.
Please share this information with your friends, family, school, workplace, as well as places of worship. In the meantime, keep yourself and others safe and well.