Is it possible that texting is the new way of helping young adults through tough situations? Crisis Text Line, a new organization started by Nancy Lublin, receives text messages daily from struggling youth asking for guidance. The messages zoom through to specialized therapists trained to handle traumatic situations. Kids are given answers, and more importantly, someone to talk to who will emphasize and use the mode of communication most relevant to their lives. The issues range from divorce to sexual abuse and nothing comes lightly.
On the surface, there’s not a lot to complain about. Kids need help and if there are people able to quickly reply to their needs, what could be missing? I see it as modern society attempting to bridge the gap that so often exists between the mental health resources available in the community and the youth that act too “cool” to reach out and take advantage of them. I think this will be a great excuse to get some data collected on how youth are reaching out for help. Are they more comfortable using texting to receive guidance? Or is this too impersonal? I think, as of now, my opinion is that this Crisis Center will be a gateway to bigger and better modes of online/convenience therapy. Texting is great for quick answers, but can it really solve the underlying teenage angst that exists and persists? Will it create too much of a “casual” atmosphere for serious issues, making them seem less important or down-playing the necessity of actually going in and seeing a therapist?
My question for fellow researchers and critics looking at the new texting crisis center is this: how can we be sure that this method of quick, real-time therapy actually works? I was perusing their website and found that they have data scientists, engineers, and other very focused individuals working for the organization to make it reliable and trustworthy for the kids using the texting. But how is success measured? With a lack of direct contact, although the confidentiality aspect is important and necessary for the mission of the organization, who is managing what is happening to these kids when they stop texting? Can it even be monitored?
Despite all the questions presented, I believe this is a step in the right direction. We’ll see where technology takes us in the coming years, but for now, many youth are glad they have a confidential, convenient, modern, place to share their feelings or even just to talk to someone that will respond and will care about how they are doing. Sometimes, that’s enough.