Text messaging programs for mental health


Teens tend to use their cellphones ad nauseam more than the older generations. As a relatively recent invention this is only natural, as those born earlier could still be more accustomed to using landlines in certain cases. Adolescents are now more likely to use text messaging as their sole form of communication to cope with troubles in school, family problems, bullying and more. In the case of an emergency regarding a teen’s mental state, such as when a teen may be suicidal, services are also readily available. Though face to face meetings continue to be important, as in the case of individualized therapy, there is no denying cellphone services will continue to grow in use.


The ubiquitous nature of cellphones can be appealing to teens who are seeking immediate relief from mental health symptoms. An article published in “Health Data Management” even states that text messaging can be a more efficient tool for treating mental health disorders than in-person therapy. There are a number of different types of recent text messaging programs to consider, such as Text-a-Tip, TalkSpace and Crisis Text Line.

Crisis Text Line and Text-a-Tip offer round the clock service every day of the week for teens. There is also the ability to remain anonymous during a conversation. This is important, as some teens do not feel comfortable or have difficulty discussing certain subject matters. Of course, in an emergency situation, such as threatening suicide, responders can be contacted to assist in prevention efforts.

According to research conducted at UC Berkeley, some of the most active participants in a study on text messaging services had low incomes and were predominately minorities. While not all of these participants had access to devices such as smartphones, the fact that they could still use this feature on their phones appealed to them. Three quarters of the group preferred to continue receiving these text messages.

Nancy Lublin, who founded Crisis Text Line, decided to start the hotline after realizing that three quarters of the teen population receives 60 or more texts per day. She noticed that teens were facing common problems such as bullying, depression and more. Solutions such as these are only gaining momentum with more time and exposure.

A study from Indiana University and other institutions has determined that the majority of patients with mental health complications have texting ability, but do not use other applications on their phones. Older generations tend to follow the same pattern when it comes to cellphone use, as they rely heavily on texting.

How texting helps adults and teens

Communicating via text can help mental health professionals to better understand the rhetoric of younger generations. For instance, Crisis Text Line publishes findings on the Internet for aspiring journalists, mental health students and others seeking more comprehensive knowledge on this new form of therapy. This helps to avoid stereotyping of this age group and more accurately pinpoint their diagnoses. Therefore, the public can expect to see further success with therapy via text in the future.

Treatment plans

Further research from the Center for Connected Health in Boston has shown that texting benefits the relationship between the health care professional and the patient, as the communication occurs on a more casual basis. Therapists can also text clients important reminders such as a prompt to take medication. Gaining better knowledge of mental health conditions via text has demonstrated improvement in treatment adherence and care.

White River Academy seeks to offer the best possible treatment for teens by offering recovery programs for those struggling with mood disorders or substance abuse. Our therapeutic boarding school provides a safe and supportive environment for teen boys to focus on both their education and their recovery. Contact our admissions team at 866-520-0905 to learn more today.

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