This Privacy Notice will take effect on 18 October 2023.
Your privacy and the security of your personal information are very important to us. We have a responsibility to keep your personal information safe and this Privacy Notice explains how we handle this information.
Shout is a service provided by Mental Health Innovations (“MHI”, “we”, or “us”). MHI is a registered charity in England and Wales, PO Box 78319, London, W10 9FE. MHI’s registered charity number is 1175670.
Shout is a text message support service that is available to anyone who is struggling to cope with their mental health. Trained Shout Volunteers are available round the clock to have conversations with texters in need of support, aiming to create a ‘safe space’ in which texters feel able to discuss difficult topics. Shout Volunteers help texters move to a calm and more manageable state of mind and help them form an action plan. Our volunteers receive training and are supervised throughout their interactions with texters by qualified mental health professionals.
Personal information is any information that can identify you in some way. It can include things like your name, address, date of birth and computer’s IP address. This information is considered to be normal or non-sensitive data.
Some personal information needs more protection because it is sensitive. This is known as ‘sensitive data’ or ‘special category data’. Sensitive data includes information relating to your health, sexuality, sex life, religious beliefs, ethnicity or any criminal convictions you might have or offences you may have committed.
In order to use your personal information, we need to establish a legal reason for doing so. This is known as our ‘legal basis’ for using your personal information.
When you first message Shout we use your non-sensitive personal information to provide you with the Shout service. From the date of this Privacy Notice onwards, our legal basis for providing Shout is the ‘legitimate interests’ legal basis. We need to use your personal information for our legitimate interests in providing you with the support you need, and to provide, maintain and improve Shout.
If your messages include sensitive data we must establish an additional legal basis for using this information. Our legal bases for using your sensitive data are:
- Substantial public interest: We rely on the ‘substantial public interest’ legal basis to use your sensitive data and this data is required to provide Shout. Shout is a confidential support service that provides advice, support and similar services to users. This represents a ‘substantial public interest’ (see Paragraph 17, Schedule 1, Data Protection Act 2018); and
- Vital interests: We may also share your personal information (including your sensitive data) with third parties, such as emergency services (for example the police or ambulance services), where we think there is an imminent risk of harm to yourself or someone else. The lawful basis for this is for your ‘vital interests’, to keep you safe. For more information, please see ‘What do we use your personal information for’.
We may rely on your consent to use your personal information (including your sensitive data), such as for our post-conversation texter surveys. Where this is the case, we will tell you when we collect your personal information and the reason why we need it. Where you provide your consent, you can change your mind and withdraw your consent at any time.
Before the date of this Privacy Notice we solely relied on your consent as our legal basis for using your personal information (including your sensitive data). If you previously provided your consent to use Shout, we will continue to rely on that consent for the retention and use of your personal information. However, any future use of Shout will be based on the ‘legitimate interests’ and ‘substantial public interest’ legal bases, as outlined above.
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.
UK data protection law provides you with certain rights in relation to your personal information. These include the right to:
- Access and receive a copy of your personal information;
- Object to the processing of your personal information;
- Restrict (or limit) the processing of your personal information;
- Port your personal information (this means to move, copy or transfer personal information easily from one location to another in a safe and secure way);
- Correct your personal information if you think it is inaccurate; and
- Erase or delete your personal information.
In some cases, your ability to exercise these rights may be limited. For example, we may not always be able to delete your personal information where we are required by law to retain it.
If you wish to exercise any of your rights, please write to us at [email protected] or the address provided below in the ‘How to contact us’ section.
If you make a request relating to any of the rights listed above, we will consider each request in accordance with UK data protection law. No fee will be charged for considering and/or complying with your request to exercise your rights. However, we may charge a ’reasonable fee’ for the administrative costs (such as photocopying, printing, postage and any other costs involved in transferring the information to you) of complying with a request if it is clearly unjustified or excessive, or if you request additional copies of your personal information.
If you would like us to delete any personal information that we may hold about you, please text the word LOOFAH to 85258. You will be asked to confirm your request and, once you do so, we will delete your personal information, unless we are required to keep it (for example, to comply with our safeguarding obligations).
If you start a conversation with a Shout Volunteer and decide that you no longer wish to receive messages, you may opt out at any time by texting the word STOP. We will confirm receipt of your STOP message and will not contact you further after this.
To provide the Shout service
We use your personal information for the purpose of providing you with the Shout service. If you decide to use Shout again, our staff may need to look back at your previous conversations to make sure that we are giving you the best support possible. They might also need to look back at conversations for legal reasons, or to review the quality of the Shout service.
To share your details with the emergency services or other appropriate third parties to keep you (or someone else) safe
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.
To anonymise Shout conversations for data analytics and research purposes (including sharing information with selected partners)
We effectively anonymise and aggregate data from your conversations to ensure you cannot be identified from such information. We analyse anonymised conversation data to help us understand the mental health needs of our texters and to improve the Shout service. We sometimes share anonymised data with carefully selected partners (including academic partners) for research purposes and/or to help improve people’s lives across the UK. We use this information for our legitimate interests in improving the Shout service and to better understand mental health trends.
To prioritise those most at risk of harm
When you first message Shout, we analyse the information you provide in order to prioritise those most at risk of harm. We use this information for our legitimate interests in ensuring we respond more quickly to those in need of urgent support and in order to keep you safe (to protect your vital interests).
To protect against, identify and prevent abuse of the Shout service and our policies, and other unlawful activity
If we think someone is abusing the Shout service, we may share your data with third parties for the purposes of discouraging this behaviour. This might include where someone is using the service to break the law, misusing the service or is communicating in a threatening way with Shout Volunteers or staff. We use this information for our legitimate interests in keeping the Shout service safe and secure for both users and volunteers.
To improve the Shout service and understand mental health trends
We effectively anonymise and aggregate data from your conversations to ensure you cannot be identified from such information. We use this information to improve the Shout service and to understand mental health trends. We are always trying to make Shout better and create new features that improve how the service operates. Anonymised conversation data helps us do this by better understanding how the Shout operates, developing and testing new service features and products, and advancing the technology we use. For example, we have developed a conversation simulator that enables Shout Volunteers to practise conversations with an artificial intelligence (AI) texter (a computer-generated pretend texter that has been taught using anonymised conversation data to imitate a real texter), We use this information for our legitimate interests in improving the Shout service by providing a better service to texters and better understanding mental health trends.
To conduct post-conversation texter surveys
Once you have finished a Shout conversation you will have the option to complete a survey. This survey includes questions relating to your experience of using the Shout service and questions that help us to understand more about our texters. Completion of the survey is entirely optional and based on your consent. Any personally identifying information will be removed from any feedback you provide before it is shared with any third party.
To comply with our legal obligations
We may disclose your personal information to comply with the law or in response to a court order, government request, or other legal process, including police investigations, or to protect the interests, rights, safety, or property of MHI.
We respect and seek to preserve the confidentiality of people who use the Shout service. However, in certain circumstances, we may share your personal information with third parties, including with:
- Police, social and ambulance/medical services to keep you safe and protect you from harm;
- Researchers at universities and other institutions to help us understand the mental health needs of our texters and to improve the Shout service. As outlined above, we will only share anonymised data with research partners;
- Service providers that perform services on our behalf, such as IT service providers, hosting providers and our advisers. For example, we have engaged with Crisis Text Line who provide certain IT services, including technology that allows us to prioritise incoming messages; and
- Other third parties, as necessary, to comply with the law or in response to a court order, government request, or other legal process, including police investigations, and to protect the interests, rights, safety, or property of MHI, its affiliates, employees, or agents, including but not limited to Shout Volunteers.
Your information is securely stored. We will keep information such as your telephone number and the record of the text messages that you exchange with us for up to 7 years after you last contact Shout. Then we will permanently delete this information from our records.
Effectively anonymised and aggregated data from your conversations, from which you cannot be identified, will be retained indefinitely.
In order to provide a 24/7 service, we engage with technical support staff in other countries, including New Zealand and the United States of America. In order to provide support, in some instances, they may have to access your personal information. We rely on relevant “adequacy regulations” from the UK Government by which they recognise that certain countries outside of the UK ensure an adequate level of protection for personal information. For example, we transfer personal information to New Zealand. Where personal information is transferred to recipients located in countries that have not been recognised as providing an adequate level of data protection (such as the United States of America), we put in place appropriate safeguards with the data recipients, such as the UK approved Standard Contractual Clauses. The Standard Contractual Clauses are a set of contractual terms approved by the UK Government that can be entered into by two or more parties. They allow a UK-based organisation to legally transfer personal information to a recipient (or recipients) located in a country that has not been recognised as providing an adequate level of protection to personal information.
If you would like a copy of the safeguards we have put in place, please contact us as indicated below.
Always be careful and responsible regarding your personal information and sensitive data. You might want to delete conversations with Shout from your phone. You might even want to clear us from your history and make sure we are not saved in your contact list.
We may update this Privacy Notice at any time. If we make any significant changes to the way we use your personal information, we will bring these to your attention by posting a link to an updated version of the Privacy Notice in a clear and prominent location on the Shout website (https://giveusashout.org/). The date this Privacy Notice was last updated is indicated at the top of the Privacy Notice.
If you have any questions or concerns about this Privacy Notice and our privacy practices or if you wish to file a complaint, please contact us by emailing [email protected] or by writing to Mental Health Innovations’ Data Protection Officer at address below.
If we fail to satisfactorily resolve your concerns or complaint, or you otherwise consider it necessary, you have the right to lodge a complaint with the Information Commissioner’s Office (which is the UK data protection regulator that has responsibility for overseeing compliance with UK data protection law). You can do so by calling the ICO helpline on 0303 123 1113 or via their website www.ico.org.uk/. We would, however, appreciate it if you gave us the chance to resolve any issues before you do so.