Students and others at the University of California, Davis, now have their own path to connect with a national service that provides crisis counseling through text message conversations.
UC Davis today (May 22) launched an awareness campaign about how to use the Crisis Text Line and the distinct keyword “RELATE” that they can text to 741741 to introduce themselves as a member of the campus community seeking help for themselves or for their concerns about someone else.
The option to text for crisis counseling adds to a comprehensive program of mental health support for students. UC Davis is one of only 12 colleges, universities and higher education systems to have its own keyword and is pioneering the use of a distinct keyword within the 10-campus UC system.
The Crisis Text Line, established in 2013, provides free, 24/7 support through text conversations with trained volunteer counselors.
It asks the general public to use one keyword, but having its own will allow the university to analyze aggregate data about the community’s use of the resource and inform its delivery of mental health and counseling services in the future.
In time for final exams
UC Davis will promote the Crisis Text Line and keyword on campus through social media, a website, flyers and signage — all with the theme of “You are not alone.”
Later this week, a team of students will shoot a video to further promote the Crisis Text Line in time for final exams (June 8 to 14) and graduation. And contact information for the service will be printed on the back of identification cards for all incoming students.
Emilia Aguirre, a specialist for mental well-being within the Health Education and Promotion department of Student Health and Counseling Services at UC Davis, is leading the project.
‘Immediate help wherever a student is’
“We want to encourage students to reach out for help when they need it,” Aguirre said. “Texting with a Crisis Text Line counselor offers immediate help wherever a student is and is a good option for someone who is uncomfortable talking with a counselor face to face or by telephone.”
Texters get connected with a crisis counselor within three to five minutes, and most conversations last less than an hour. Liz Eddy, director of communications for the Crisis Text Line, said the goal of the service is to help individuals in crisis become more calm and create a plan to stay safe and healthy.
Aguirre began working on the project about a year ago and started volunteering with the Crisis Text Line in January.
Support for student mental health
In health surveys, it is not uncommon for UC Davis students to report feeling extremely hopeless, overwhelmed, exhausted, lonely, angry, depressed, sad or anxious at some point in the last 12 months.
Health Education and Promotion at UC Davis works to foster the mental well-being of students and to encourage them to seek help when they need it.
In 2014, UC Davis launched Each Aggie Matters, a campus movement to help raise mental health awareness, de-stigmatize mental illness and cultivate mental well-being. Its website has information to help students navigate challenges and feelings they may be experiencing, resources for help including a mental health map of those on campus, and opportunities for training in how to help fellow students.
At UC Davis, Counseling Services offers confidential and free assessment, intervention and referral services for students, and consultation and crisis response for others concerned about the well-being of students. Urgent care for medical and mental health needs is available at the Student Health and Wellness Center. Outside regular operating hours, students can call 530-752-2349 for a counseling consultation by phone.