The younger generation of British royals have made mental health one of their major focuses, most notably with the launch of Heads Together in 2016. Now, the royals are expanding their mission with Shout, a text service for people who need someone to speak to. In a video announcing Shout, Prince William puts out a call for volunteers while explaining what exactly the service does.
According to Shout's website, it is "the UK’s first free 24/7 text service for anyone in crisis anytime, anywhere. It’s a place to go if you’re struggling to cope and you need immediate help." A message on the Sussex Royal Instagram account further notes the important fact that the service is silent, which makes it more accessible: "This free text messaging helpline is a private, silent and trusted way, for those experiencing mental health challenges to find a safe space to seek help and support." This means that people who don't feel comfortable seeking help in person or by making a phone call — or who aren't able to do either of those things — will be more likely to reach out. To use the service, all you have to do is text "Shout" to 85258 in the UK. (In the U.S., you can text "HOME" to 741741 for the same service.)
As for how Shout works, that's where Price William's video message comes in. Shout is the U.K. version of the Crisis Text Line in the U.S., which is a partner of Shout. The service uses volunteers who are trained to respond to messages from those in need.
"Shout is a new text line that supports people who need advice in a tough moment," Williams says in the video. "It operates 24/7 and connects people to trained volunteers to provide help at a time when it is most needed enabling them to move from crisis to calm and to find longer term support."
Calling for volunteers, William says, "This is a flexible, new, and exciting volunteering opportunity. You can work from home, from your kitchen table, volunteer with your colleagues in offices, in your halls of residence, anywhere that is private with a secure internet connection."
The Prince explains that the training is all done online and that volunteers can choose the hours that work best for them. Volunteers must be over 18, in the U.K., have access to a computer and a secure internet connection, have 25 hours available for training, and commit to two to four hours per week of volunteering for one year.
The conversations volunteers have with those who reach out are "supported by clinically trained supervisors." Still, William notes that volunteering is not for everyone, specifically explaining that there will be tough topics that arise, including suicidal thoughts, abuse, sexuality, and more.
Those who are interested in volunteering can visit the Shout volunteering page for more information. More information about Shout as a whole, including how to reach out for support, is available here.
If you or someone you know is seeking help for mental health concerns, visit the National Alliance on Mental Health (NAMI) website, or call 1-800-950-NAMI(6264). For confidential treatment referrals, visit the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) website, or call the National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP(4357). In an emergency, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK(8255) or call 911.