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Duke of Cambridge calls for volunteers to join mental health text service

New Shout text service allows LGBTQ people to seek advice confidentially

2019-05-10

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and The Duke and Duchess of Sussex have launched Shout, a free text messaging service that aims to provide ‪24/7 support for anyone experiencing mental health crisis.

The new national service, established by Mental Health Innovations in partnership with Crisis Text Line and supported by The Royal Foundation, arrives three years after the royals launched their Heads Together campaign to highlight issues around mental health.

Shout is powered by volunteers trained to create a safe space for people experiencing mental health challenges. Texting allows for discrete and immediate contact for people in need - whether they are at home, school, work, anywhere.

To guarantee confidence, the Shout number doesn’t appear on a texter’s phone bill and volunteers cannot identify a texter by their number.

Modelled after a hugely successful similar project in the USA, volunteers undergo 25 hours of online training that includes LGBTQ sexuality and gender identity, and work under the supervision of qualified clinicians.

Shout enables texters to move from a moment of crisis to a calm state and form a plan for next steps to find longer-term support. As texting is private and silent, it opens up a whole new way to find help.

The original service model in the USA that inspired Shout has seen a huge number of LGBTQ people seek help as the private nature of texting allows for them to seek support without having to reveal their sexuality, which might otherwise put them in danger or in a vulnerable situation.

Working remotely allows for volunteers to be based anywhere in the UK, creating a national network of a supportive and connected online community. 

Shout and the Duke of Cambridge are calling on people to join the national volunteer community with a view to boosting numbers to 4,000 by the end of the year.

Applicants should be over 18, have access to a computer and secure internet connection and be able to commit to 25 hours initial training and make an ongoing commitment to volunteer two to four hours each week.

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and The Duke and Duchess of Sussex said in a joint statement: “We are incredibly excited to be launching this service, knowing it has the potential to reach thousands of vulnerable people every day.

“Over the last few months Shout has started working quietly behind the scenes. We have all been able to see the service working up close and are so excited for its future.

“At the heart of this service will be an incredible national volunteer community, one which needs to grow to allow us to support more people in crisis. We hope that many more of you will join us and be part of something very special.”

The Duke of Cambridge added that he hoped the service would “create lasting change and produce something tangible” out of their ongoing campaigning to highlight the issues around mental health.

The Duchess of Cambridge added that the service was created “to help people when they are feeling scared, frightened, alone. It’s able to offer support when it’s critically needed.”

The Duke of Cambridge made history as the first member of the royal family to directly address the issue of LGBTQ mental health and spoke out against anti-gay/trans bullying in May 2016 when he appeared on the cover of Attitude magazine and met members of the LGBTQ community. 

To become a volunteer go to www.giveusashout.org

In the UK, mental health awareness week 2019 will run from May 16 to 22.

Watch the Duke of Cambridge speak about mental health awareness below: