FAQ

For texters

What is Shout?

Shout 85258 is a 24/7 UK text messaging service for times when people feel they need immediate support.

Who can use Shout 85258?

Anyone of any age, who is a resident in the UK, can text the service for support.

Why does Shout 85258 exist?

We exist to provide support to anyone, anywhere and at any time who may be experiencing a challenging time with their mental health.

When was Shout 85258 set up and launched?

Shout was publicly launched in May 2019, after a year long pilot phase. It is based on the successful US model Crisis Text Line.

How does the service work?

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.

1. 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.

2. 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.

3. 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.

4. Towards the end of the conversation, the Shout Volunteer can provide resources that provide further help and support for longer-term mental health experiences.

Why might someone text Shout 85258?

There are many reasons why people may get in touch with Shout 85258, 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.

Does Shout 85258 provide therapy?

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 85258 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.

What mobile phone networks can I text Shout from?

You can text Shout 85258 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 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 info@giveusahout.org. 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.

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. 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.This is because some networks do not provide the capability to message short codes. You can find alternate ways to get support via www.headstogether.org/getsupport.

How long do I have to wait for a Shout Volunteer?

Our goal is to respond to every texter in under 5 minutes. During times of high volume, (e.g. at night or on high awareness days such as ‘World Mental Health Day’), wait times may be longer.

Is there a character limit when texting Shout 85258

Yes, our system is only able to process 160 characters in one message.

Can I text in more than once?

You can text Shout 85258 any time of day or night that you are struggling. 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. Our trained volunteers provide users with empathetic support and techniques to handle future issues, as well as directing texters for where to find longer-term support and/or therapy for their particular concerns. We cannot provide regular long term support however we can direct you to an appropriate service such as the NHS or other specialist charities.

Will you be able to provide me with regular, long term support?

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.

Are my messages with Shout 85258 confidential?

Messages with Shout 85258 are confidential unless we’re concerned about someone’s safety. If a texter is believed to be in imminent danger or a safeguarding issue is raised, the Clinical Supervisor (who monitors all conversations on the platform to ensure the right support is being given) will share the texter’s details with emergency services or appropriate authorities in order to keep them safe.

In cases when a texter is in immediate danger of suicide or homicide, as determined by a risk assessment by the Shout Volunteer and Supervisor, our first step is to try to work with the texter to form a safety plan.

If the texter is unable to plan for their own safety, the Supervisor may contact emergency services, who may dispatch a wellness check. We take your confidentiality seriously. Please view our terms of service.

I want to stop my conversation with a Shout Volunteer

Message us with the word ‘STOP’ at anytime 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’.

Do you store my details?

We anonymise and aggregate high-level data from conversations in order to study and improve our own performance. We share some of this data with carefully selected and screened academic partners, but the data is always anonymised, individual conversations cannot and will not ever be shared. Following conversations, some of our texters choose to leave feedback for the service. This feedback is sent to us anonymously and any personally identifying information is removed. We sometimes share anonymised texter feedback on our social media channels.

If a texter is believed to be in imminent danger or a safeguarding issue is raised, the Clinical Supervisor (who monitors all conversations on the platform to ensure the right support is being given) will share the texter’s details with emergency services or appropriate authorities.

How will this information be used?

The anonymised data we collate helps to provide unique insights into mental health trends to help improve people’s lives across the UK.

I want my conversation with Shout deleted from your system

Message us with the word LOOFAH following your conversation and we’ll remove or 'scrub' your data from our system.

Who are the Shout Volunteers?

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.

Are Shout Volunteers supervised?

Yes. Our experienced, full-time Clinical Supervisors* oversee and assist our volunteers on the platform. *Clinical Supervisors all have Master's degrees in a relevant field, or commensurate crisis intervention experience.

How do Shout Volunteers receive messages from people?

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.

How are Shout Volunteers trained?

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.

What policies must Shout Volunteers follow?

You can read our volunteer policies and guidelines here.

For volunteers

How can I become a Shout Volunteer?

Our application process for volunteers is always open. Please apply here. We are always looking for people to sign up to become volunteers, however please be aware that once you have applied there is currently an 8 – 12 week waiting time for applications to be processed.

What are the requirements for becoming a Shout Volunteer?

To become a Shout Volunteer, you must:

Be a resident in the UK or New Zealand - you are only able to volunteer for Shout 85258 from the UK or New Zealand.

Be at least 18 years old - no-one under 18 years can volunteer for Shout 85258.

Have a secure internet connection - you need to have access to a computer with a secure, reliable internet connection to volunteer with Shout 85258. You respond to text messages using your laptop and a secure online platform. A mobile phone or tablet device is not suitable. We also recommend Google Chrome browser.

Fill out an application - all volunteers must submit an online application for review by the Shout Admissions Team.

Provide two referees - we ask that you provide the names and contact details of two referees that can support you and your application. We ask that one of these referees is professional. We do not accept family members as referees.

Volunteer commitment - we ask our volunteers to commit to 2-4 hours per week.

I do not have a professional referee. Who can support my application?

If you cannot gain a professional reference, we also accept:

- Religious leader

- Teacher/Educator (a Personal Tutor, Lecturer, Careers Advisor)

- Doctor/Health Visitor

- Lawyer

All referees must submit their reference to us through our online form. You can add a new referee to your application at any time by logging into your application dashboard at home.giveusashout.org.

What is the volunteer commitment at Shout 85258?

We ask our volunteers to commit to volunteer for 2-4 hours per week.

When is the next Shout volunteer training?

We accept applications on a rolling basis. A new training cohort starts every two weeks. We are always looking for people to sign up to become volunteers, however please be aware that once you have applied there is currently an 8 – 12 week waiting time for applications to be processed. Once you are accepted into the programme, you have two attempts to complete the training. You will be asked to re-apply if you are unable to complete the training after two attempts. Accepted applicants should evaluate their personal commitments and needs when choosing to volunteer with Shout 85258. 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 are a charity and training our volunteers costs money. We’re excited to meet you!

Can I volunteer for Shout 85258 as a placement?

We love students and welcome them to apply to volunteer with us!

Shout 85258 is currently unable to serve as a field placement or to sign any third-party community service documentation. We do offer letters of verification once you volunteer with us. These detail the number of hours you have completed, the number of texters you have supported, and also this letter gives a short summary of the work you complete as a Shout Volunteer. Volunteers can download a letter of verification from their Profile at any time.

Other

How is Shout 85258 funded and supported?

We’re funded and supported by a number of organisations. Please see our Supporters page for more information.

What are Shout 85258's costs?

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.

How can I donate to Shout 85258?

You can find out more about donating to Shout here.

Can organisations partner with Shout 85258?

Shout is partnered with organisations across the country, from large charities like The Mix and YoungMinds 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: Partner with us

Can I get marketing materials to share with my community?

You can download resources to help ‘Shout about it’ on our Share the number page.

Who do I contact for a media enquiry?

Email media@giveusashout.org.

Didn't find what you were looking for?

Email us at info@giveusashout.org.