Royal stars launch mental health text helpline

Prince William, Prince Harry, Kate and Meghan have launched the UK’s first free 24/7 text helpline for people in crisis.

Chrissy Chiu | 13th May 19
Image of a girl texting on her phone

Prince William, Prince Harry, Kate and Meghan teamed up to launch a helpline tackling mental health issues. The new text message helpline targets people struggling from a ‘tough moment’ to those who want to move from ‘crisis to calm.’

Shout is the UK’s first free 24/7 text service for anyone in crisis anytime, anywhere. The helpline is supported by a team of volunteers who are trained to handle challenging situations. The service is modelled after the US-based namesake, operating a phone line called ‘Crisis Text Line’.

The helpline works by maximising digital technology. Users can text Shout from anywhere in the UK and the messages are then routed to trained volunteers, who respond to crisis or challenging situations through computers. Importantly for users, conversations are not timed – they only end when users are comfortable disconnecting.

The text helpline also collects data to support scientific research, adding to the existing body of research to combat mental illnesses.


Reaching people in crisis

Working together for the launch of the project, the young royals supported the initiative with a £3 million grant from their Royal Foundation.

Speaking at the event, Prince William said: “with the biggest investment by the Royal Foundation to date we are today able to formally launch Shout – a new UK-wide service that connects vulnerable people in a state of crisis to trained volunteers who are there to help.”

“The conversations are run by volunteers who have completed 25 hours of online training, and are monitored by an exceptional clinical team. Over the course of the last year 1,000 volunteers have signed up, and 60,000 conversations have taken place.”

“That is 60,000 moments when people who were feeling scared, frightened and alone were able to use their phone to connect with someone who could support them.”

Kate, Duchess of Cambridge, said: “For the last few years, I’ve been focusing much of my work on the importance of prevention in the earliest years of life to help avoid problems in later life.”

“But, sadly, for so many, they have already reached a crisis situation. This is why Shout is so important. It is able to offer support when it is crucially needed, and the opportunity to turn lives around.”

While William and Kate headlined at the launch event, Prince Harry and Meghan appeared in film adverts promoting the helpline earlier in the year. They were absent at the launch due to the birth of their first child, Archie. The famous foursome have also been directly involved with volunteers, providing motivation from behind the scenes.