Press Releases

NAMI HelpLine Launches a New, Nationwide Texting Support Option

Aug 01 2022

ARLINGTON, VA — The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) today launched a nationwide SMS/text message support option for the NAMI HelpLine, adding a communications medium that is overwhelmingly preferred by young people — a population experiencing an unprecedented mental health crisis.

Help-seekers can now text “HELPLINE” to 62640 between 10 a.m.–10 p.m. ET, Monday–Friday, to connect with the NAMI HelpLine. The free, peer-support service provides information, resource referrals and support to people living with a mental health condition, their family members and caregivers, mental health providers and the public.

“NAMI is dedicated to reaching people who need mental health support where they are, not where we want them to be,” said NAMI CEO Daniel H. Gillison Jr. “For our youth and young adults — who are bearing the brunt of an unprecedented mental health crisis — that place is often on their smartphones.”

The numbers paint a troubling picture of mental health among young people:

  • Even before the pandemic, suicide was the second-leading cause of death among people aged 10–34, and other indicators of poor mental health among adolescents were worsening.
  • Mental health-related emergency department visits among those 12–17 years old increased 31% since the pandemic began.
  • Among those 18–25 years old, 1 in 3 experienced a mental illness, 1 in 10 experienced a serious mental illness and 3.8 million had serious thoughts of suicide in 2020.
  • Nearly half of students feel persistently sad or hopeless.

The NAMI HelpLine, which extended its service hours twice in 2021, has seen similar trends among the general population: Overall contacts from help-seekers increased 79% from 2019 to 2021 — totaling nearly 67,000 connections. The number of help-seekers who were experiencing a mental health crisis jumped 290%, while the number experiencing suicidal ideation was up 180%.

Other statistics demonstrate the reliance on texting among younger people:

  • The Crisis Text Line reported that 70% of its texters in 2021 were younger than 25 years old, 31% were 14–17, and 13% were 13 or younger.
  • Texting was the top technology used by 83% of teens to stay in touch with friends and family during the pandemic, with voice calls trailing behind at 72%.
  • Even before the pandemic, texting had already surpassed in-person communication as teens’ preferred way of staying in touch with friends.
  • If forced to choose between a phone that can only make voice calls and one that can only text, 75% of Millennials said they would prefer text.

In addition to the new texting option announced today, the NAMI HelpLine continues to be available Monday–Friday, 10 a.m.–10 p.m. ET, by phone at 1-800-950-NAMI (6264), via the “Chat with us” web widget, or by email at [email protected].

The new text service is different from the new 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline, which offers both voice and text support to those experiencing a mental health or suicide-related crisis. The nationwide rollout of NAMI HelpLine texting feature follows a pilot project in Texas and New York.

 

The National Alliance on Mental Illness is the nation’s largest grassroots mental health organization dedicated to improving the lives of individuals and families affected by mental illness.

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