Shout is a free, 24/7 text messaging mental health support service for anyone who is struggling to cope.
Anyone of any age, who is a resident in the UK, can text the service for support.
Shout is a de-escalation, volunteer-driven service. We work with people in distress to take them to a calmer moment and empower them to take their next steps to feeling better and handle future issues. We help texters to plan for their safety and to use techniques that support their own wellbeing. We might signpost them to further support services or their GP so that they can get continuous and long-term support.
Every conversation is overseen by a Clinical Supervisor and assessed for risk; our volunteers will never close a conversation where there is an imminent risk to someone’s life. If we have been texting for a while and a texter is not deemed to be at imminent risk, the volunteer will look to recap on the next steps with the texter and warmly close the conversation. This is so that we are able to help provide our service to other people who are also in distress and need in the moment support.
Shout is not a service that can provide regular, ongoing support and so if you have had 20 engaged conversations within 60 days, or 5 engaged conversations within 48 hours, we will let you know that we will need to limit your conversations to one conversation every 48 hours.
Please always call 999 if your life is at imminent risk.
You can also find a list of helpful resources to explore here: https://giveusashout.org/get-help/resources
Shout was publicly launched in May 2019, after a year-long pilot phase. It is based on the successful US model Crisis Text Line.
An individual will text ‘SHOUT’ or another partner keyword to ‘85258’ when in need of support. This service is available 24/7 to people in the UK.
- The texter will then receive an automated text asking them about the nature of their problem. This text will also let the individual know that they are being connected to a trained Shout Volunteer. The aim is to respond to all texters within five minutes, but wait times may be longer during busy periods.
- Once connected, the Shout Volunteer will introduce themselves. The texter and volunteer will communicate back and forth via text message, using Shout’s secure platform.
- Our Shout Volunteers use empathetic and effective active listening techniques, establish goals and discover next steps to move our texters from a hot moment, to a cool calm, until the texter feels calm and safe.
- Towards the end of the conversation, the Shout Volunteer can provide resources that provide further help and support for longer-term mental health experiences.
There are many reasons why people may get in touch with Shout, and our Shout Volunteers will provide 24/7 support and guidance, no matter what the issue. Shout supports people experiencing any type of personal mental health concern. It might be that texters feel anxious or stressed, isolated, lonely or grieving. They may be experiencing eating or body issues or substance misuse. Perhaps they have experienced bullying, depression or sadness, or have relationship worries, or self-harm and suicidal thoughts. Sexual, physical or emotional abuse or concerns about sexual identity may also be prompts for texting in.
The service provides immediate support for all types of mental health challenges, taking people who are struggling to cope to a place of calm every day of the week. This should not be confused with therapy.
Our trained volunteers provide texters with empathetic support and techniques to handle future problems, as well as directing them towards longer-term support and/or therapy for their particular concerns. It’s not a one way process: you won’t be told what to do. Shout is a volunteer-driven, de-escalation service. We may not be able to provide you with the kind of service you might need, if you are looking for continuous regular support.
Shout Volunteers work with you to address your moment of challenge and look to move forward.
You can text Shout free and anonymously from all major UK networks. It is free and confidential to text our service from the following major networks: EE, O2, Three and Vodafone. These include – BT Mobile, Tesco Mobile, Virgin Mobile, iD Mobile, Sky, Telecom Plus, Lebara, Smarty and GiffGaff.
If you are contacting us from a network listed above, and the service does not appear to be working for you, please reply with your mobile phone number and network provider at [email protected]. We need this information to be able to investigate the circumstances.
Some Android phones, including the Samsung Galaxy handset, issue a warning that you will be charged for texting us. Provided you are on one of the networks listed here, this warning is incorrect and you will not be charged.
Please note - if you have been issued with the warning message and you have hit deny, you will not be able to send an SMS to our service as you have set a block setting on your Android device to prevent you from texting us. We have some instructions available here which will help you change your settings and be able to text us again.
If you text us from a network that is not on this list there is a possibility that you may be charged for the messages and that they may appear on your bill. This applies to a very small minority of operators. If your mobile network is not listed here, please check with your mobile network operator directly.
It is not possible to text the service from some networks, which do not provide the capability to message short codes. These include Lyca mobile and EcoTalk. This is because some networks do not provide the capability to message short codes. If your message will not send, or if you do not receive an automated message in response, it is an indicator that the service is not working on your network and you should reach out to your Mobile Network provider. You can find alternate ways to get support via https://www.headstogether.org.uk/get-support/.
We respond to everybody as soon as we can, but you may need to wait at busy times (e.g. at night or on high awareness days such as ‘World Mental Health Day’), when wait times may be longer.
Shout is here to provide in the moment support for people who are struggling to cope. This can be for a number of different issues such as anxiety, depression, suicidal thoughts, loneliness, relationship problems, bullying, sexuality and gender issues and more. While people do text us more than once, our trained volunteers are there to provide users with empathetic support and techniques to handle future issues, as well as directing texters to longer-term support and/or therapy for their particular concerns. If you text the service regularly, that is if you have had 20 engaged conversations within 60 days or 5 engaged conversations within 48 hours, we will let you know that we will need to limit your conversations to one conversation every 48 hours. We can also direct you to an appropriate service such as the NHS or other specialist charities to get further support.
Yes, our system is only able to process 160 characters in one message.
Given that we are a de-escalation, volunteer-driven organisation, we may not be able to provide you with the kind of service you might need, if you are looking for continuous regular support. We recommend that you speak with your local GP or if applicable your mental health support team.
We take your confidentiality very seriously and your Shout conversations are confidential, unless we are concerned about your safety. If we think you or someone else is in immediate physical danger or that you or someone else’s life is at imminent risk, we will try to work with you to form a safety plan. If this is not possible or if we think you are at risk of what are called ‘safeguarding issues’ (for example abuse or neglect), a Clinician (a qualified mental health professional) may share your details with the emergency services or appropriate authorities, including police, ambulance/medical and social services, in order to keep you (or anyone else) safe and as necessary to protect your vital interests.
When you first message Shout the service will have access to your mobile telephone number. We keep this in order to be able to have a conversation with you and provide you with our service. Our Shout Volunteers will not be able to see your phone number.
We keep the content of your message, including any personal information you may have included in your conversation, such as details about your health, sexuality, religious beliefs, ethnicity or any criminal convictions you might have. We also keep the notes that a Shout Volunteer might take during your conversation.
Once you have finished a Shout conversation you will have the option to complete a feedback survey. Any personally identifying information will be removed from any feedback you provide before it is shared with any third party.
The anonymised data we collate helps to provide unique insights into mental health trends to help improve people’s lives across the UK. For more details on how your information will be used, please see the ‘What do we use your personal information for’ section of our Shout User Privacy Notice.
Message us with the word ‘STOP’ at any time during a conversation to end the conversation. Our volunteer will not message you again once you have ended the conversation. If you would like to start the conversation again, text 85258 saying ‘START’.
Message us with the word LOOFAH following your conversation and we’ll remove or 'scrub' your data from our system.
Our dedicated and trained Shout Volunteers are real people from all around the UK. After a rigorous multi-stage application process, background checks and a 25-hour training program, each Shout Volunteer commits to volunteering for 2-4 hours a week.
Yes. Our experienced Clinical Supervisors oversee and assist our volunteers on the platform. Clinical Supervisors all have Masters degrees in a relevant field, or commensurate crisis intervention experience.
Shout Volunteers interact with texters through a secure online platform. They respond to text messages through their personal laptop or desktop computer, during their scheduled shifts. The text messages appear like an Instant Messenger. The volunteer cannot see the texter’s phone number.
Volunteer training involves 25 online hours which are undertaken at the volunteer’s own pace over a 6-week period. The training includes online video content and interactive exercises to enable volunteers to learn skills around empathetically engaging with texters on a variety of presenting issues, which may range from exam stress to self harm or suicidal thoughts. The training provides a methodology for assessing and managing a texter’s situation and/or any risk that the texter might be in as well as a way of helping texters to develop a plan to support their safety following the conversation.
Safeguarding is about keeping all children and young people safe and making sure they can grow up with the best chances.
The law says that we must make sure that when you text us, we do what we can to protect you.
Shout Volunteers are trained to listen, to help you express what is on your mind and to help you to stay safe.
To become a Shout Volunteer, you must:
- Be resident in the UK or New Zealand - you cannot volunteer for Shout from outside the UK or New Zealand.
- Be at least 18 years old - no-one under 18 years can volunteer for Shout.
- Have the right equipment - you need to have a computer (or laptop) with Google’s Chrome browser, and a secure, reliable internet connection to volunteer with Shout. You respond to text messages using your computer through our secure online platform. A mobile phone or tablet device is not suitable.
- Fill out an application form - you must submit an online application for review by our Admissions Team.
- Provide us with two referees who know you personally to help us understand how well suited you are to being a Shout Volunteer. At least one must be a professional referee. We do not accept family members as referees.
- Agree to undergo a background check.
- Be able to commit to volunteering - we ask our volunteers to commit to 2-4 hours per week for at least 200 hours in total.
Find out more about volunteering.
You must provide us with two referees who know you personally to help us understand how well suited you are to being a Shout Volunteer. At least one must be a professional referee.
Professional referees can be:
- managers or supervisors from where you work,
- teachers or educators from where you study,
- members of your community (doctor, health visitor, solicitor, religious post-holder such as priest or pastor, councillor, military officer).
Other referees can be friends or colleagues, but must not be members of your family (which includes your partner or their relatives; children, siblings, aunts, uncles, grandparents and godparents).
We will contact both referees on your behalf and ask them to complete a brief online questionnaire. References will be treated as strictly confidential between your referee and us.
Please note, we can accept references only using the online questionnaire we send, which must be fully completed by your referee. It’s your responsibility to make sure your referees are willing and able to provide a reference for you, and to find alternatives if they’re not, to avoid a delay in processing your application.
After completing our training, we ask our volunteers to commit to 2-4 hours per week for at least 200 hours.
We are always looking for people to sign up to become volunteers, and new training groups usually every two weeks. Once we've received your completed application and references it can take up to four weeks to review your application.
If you fall behind on training we may ask you to reapply. You should consider your availability and needs before applying to volunteer with Shout. We are a charity and training our volunteers costs money. It is an important commitment and we do ask that you only go ahead with the training if you are ready to take this on. We’re excited to meet you!
We love students and welcome them to apply to volunteer with us!
We’re not able to offer any field placements, although you’re welcome to use your volunteering time if your course allows it. You can download a letter of verification that confirms the number of hours you have volunteered and the number of texters you have supported, along with a short summary of what you do as a Shout Volunteer. Regrettably, we’re not able to provide any additional feedback or complete documentation on your behalf.
The majority of Shout's costs are on its clinical and coaching team in order to best support our texters and Shout Volunteers. We also need to fund our technology, and our data insights, operational and management teams.
Shout is partnered with organisations across the country, from corporates and large charities like The Mix and Place2Be to more local organisations. We create new partnerships to make sure the service can provide support to all of those in need, and are continually adding to this list of partners for the same reason. Find out more about partnering with Shout here.
Fundraising for Shout
For everything you need to know about fundraising for Shout, click here.
If you are planning your own challenge or taking part in an event you can’t see listed on the links above, we’d love you to still fundraise for us. Simply set up your fundraiser on JustGiving and let us know your plans by emailing [email protected].
Once you’ve set up a page on JustGiving, follow these next steps to boost your fundraising:
- Add a photo of yourself or your team and update the ‘story’ section to let everyone know why you’re fundraising for Shout.
- Set a fundraising target. This will depend on your event and any minimum fundraising obligations, but £250 could cover the cost of training a Shout Volunteer!
- Share regular updates on your JustGiving page and on your social media. Let family and friends know how your training is going and how you feel after the event.
If you’re looking for inspiration, check out 10 ways to put the fun in fundraising.
We’d love to send you a t-shirt, cap or running vest to wear while fundraising for Shout. Email us at [email protected] with your size and address for more information.
If you’re able to, consider donating the cost of your t-shirt or running vest (£10) to your fundraising page. Only available while stocks last.
If you’d like a different design to our fundraising t-shirts, take a look at our shop.
Where possible, we’d love to celebrate your event on our social media. Please tag us in your posts and we’ll do our best to share:
We can’t guarantee we’ll always be able to share on our socials, and you’ll always see the most donations from your friends and family.
Don’t worry! All money raised on JustGiving will still go directly to Shout and support every aspect of our free text service, ensuring we’re here for everyone who needs us, 24/7.
If for any reason you’ve had to cancel your event or can’t finish your fundraiser, let us know as soon as possible by emailing [email protected]. If your event is being held by one of our partners at Ultra Challenge, Choose a Challenge or Run for Charity, this is particularly important to ensure we can cancel your place