Prince William's crisis line says nearly twice as many people are seeking help in pandemic

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Prince William's crisis helpline which allows people to send texts for help instead of calling has reported nearly twice as many conversations a day since last year.

The Royal Foundation, which is now the centre of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge's charitable work, helped set up Shout 85258, a free 24-hour text message-based mental health support service with a grant in May 2019.

Last year William, 38, revealed he was one of the volunteers on the service, helping to respond to texts from people in crisis.

On a call with other volunteers, he said: “I’m going to share a little secret with you guys, but I’m actually on the platform volunteering.”

A report from Shout has shown the service is averaging nearly twice as many conversations per day compared to last year. In early 2020, before the pandemic, the service averaged 750 conversations each day, but this figure is now 1,400 a day.

It also showed that being able to send a text meant more people were able to reach out for support. More than a third of people seeking help through the Shout platform had never told anyone how they were feeling before.

LONDON, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 12: Prince William, Duke of Cambridge attends the Shout's Crisis Volunteer celebration event at Troubadour White City Theatre on November 12, 2019 in London, England. (Photo by Yui Mok - WPA Pool/Getty Images)
Prince William at the Shout's Crisis Volunteer celebration event in London in November 2019. (Yui Mok - WPA Pool/Getty Images)

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Two-thirds of those using the service were under 25, showing the importance of the platform for those more digitally-minded.

And 55% of those who used it felt they had no one else to talk to.

The service was launched by charity Mental Health Innovations in May 2019 with the grant from the Royal Foundation.

Mental health and wellbeing had become a focus of the Royal Foundation while the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge ran it with William's brother Prince Harry.

It can be accessed at any time by texting the word “Shout” to 85258.

Jason Knauf chief executive of the Royal Foundation said: “It was just a few years ago that Their Royal Highnesses and the team at The Royal Foundation started considering new ways to use technology to help people have conversations on mental health wherever they are.

“We are incredibly proud to celebrate this milestone for Shout 85258 and Mental Health Innovations today. This is a service that is saving lives and changing them for the better. And as we continue to confront the mental health challenges brought by the pandemic, this work could not be more important.”

Britain's Prince William, Duke of Cambridge (3L) and his wife Britain's Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge (2R) attend the charity Shout's Crisis Volunteer celebration event at the Troubadour White City Theatre in London on November 12, 2019. - Shout is a 24/7 text support service which was researched and developed by The Royal Foundation as a legacy of the Heads Together Campaign. The annual volunteer day celebrates the hundreds of trained Crisis Volunteers who operate the 24/7 service. Shout aims to encourage people to reach out for support at an early stage, without fear or shame. (Photo by Yui Mok / POOL / AFP) (Photo by YUI MOK/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
William and Kate at Shout's Crisis Volunteer celebration event in November 2019. William now volunteers on the service. (Yui Mok/AFP)

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Victoria Hornby, chief executive of Mental Health Innovations, said: “When Mental Health Innovations publicly launched Shout 85258 in May 2019, our aim was to bring free digital intervention in the form of text message support to anyone in the UK who is struggling to cope.

“Since then we’ve swiftly grown to become an essential 24/7 mental health support service, supporting more than 1,000 people every day.

“We have a community of more than 2,200 volunteers and staff in the UK and New Zealand. This report is a testament to partnership, collaboration and innovation, and the extraordinary, selfless commitment of thousands of volunteers, to whom we are incredibly grateful.”