Tech Tuesday: Text based hotlines are on the rise

Tech Tuesday

LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) — At Michigan State University, a new study points out a promising trend with a new text service being offered on campus.

A team from Michigan State, including associate professor Carrie Moylan, measured the use of this service asking one question.

“How do we make these web or text based hotlines more effective at reaching survivors, helping them get connected to the kinds of support they might be looking for?” says Moylan.

What Moylan found is that over the past year, Crisis Chat is being used as frequently as the traditional telephone hot line.

“So it pretty much doubled the number of survivors who were reaching out via the hot line to the center for survivors, which is really exciting.” continues Moylan.

Moylan is now hoping this text option expands to more colleges and universities — because she says this study suggests that college-aged survivors are likely to use this hotline.

“As being a safer or easier way for people to reach out for help. It’s very convenient, it’s private, nobody knows you’re texting a help line and not just texting your friend. They’re reaching out and likely students who would not have reached out by telephone.”

But these positives do come with challenges, like additional training for staff and volunteers.

“Where on the phone you can hear someone’s tone of voice, you can gauge how they’re feeling, you don’t have any of those context clues when you’re chatting with sombody. So learning how to read text, how to ask for clarification, how to engage in those conversations has been a learning experience.”

Crisis Chat is open from 10:00 a.m. until 10:00 p.m. at night.

It’s available for survivors, but also friends and family looking for how to support someone they know.

“These online hot lines, web based, text based hot lines have been growing in popularity.” says, Carrie Moylan, an Associate Producer at the MSU School of Social Work “And something about ya know chatting and texting is maybe a little less scary.”

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