In a personal crisis, people often turn to a trusted friend, family member, coworker, or therapist, but unfortunately, they can not always be there.
Crisis Text Line is a free 24/7 service available to those in a personal crisis. Someone can text their hotline number with a simple message, entering them into a conversation with a trained counselor who will give them tips and resources to help resolve severe emotional pain.
Rebecca Spargo, a junior psychology major at the University of New Haven, is a Crisis Counselor. She believes this is one way to help younger people improve and learn about their mental health, and thinks it’s a good way for people to have a basic experience with a type of therapy.
“I think if people have the background and experience of web therapy, it can have benefits in the long run,” she said.
Spargo recently started volunteering with Crisis Text Line, after completing a total of 34 hours of training over a few weeks. She wanted to work with a psychological services program where she knew could help people.
She explains that she is not a licensed therapist, and neither are most other counselors, but they’ve been coached in how to deal with people in crisis, specifically over text.
The counselors aren’t there to solve problems or act as therapists, or even give specific advice. They listen and provide encouraging statements to clients who are in a time of need. Words often shared are “brave, smart, and courageous,” according to Spargo.
During one of her recent sessions, she was contacted by a person who appeared to show symptoms delusions of grandeur, a condition where one believes they are someone other than themselves, like a supernatural being or celebrity, according to Healthline.
Spargo had no idea how to handle the situation, so she turned to a resource set up by Crisis Text Line – a support group full of other counselors. The group serves as a way for counselors to get help on certain situations, transfer clients to someone more knowledgeable on a specific issue, or get support after stressful sessions. The service also has a debrief group where counselors calm down after tough conversations.
“We’re all there to help each other,” she said.
A big part of the training for Crisis Counselors are how to maintain positive self-care habits physically, mentally, and emotionally. Spargo said it can be tough to manage someone else’s issues on top of your own, which makes the self-care piece so important.
According to the Crisis Text Line website, the service is currently receiving a high number of incoming requests, partially due to a recent uptick in their social media presence.
Anyone who wishes to receive the help of a Crisis Counselor should text “HOME” to 741741 to be connected.