What if we could help people in a crisis, anytime, anywhere, with a simple text message?

A medical professional sits with her head in her hand
Image from Audacious Project
Clare Kelly
by Clare Kelly
29 April 2020

That's the idea behind Crisis Text Line, a free 24-hour service that connects people in need with trained, volunteer crisis counsellors.

Crisis Text Line has been selected as one of this year's Audacious projects as they plan to expand their life-saving service to 32 per cent of the world – rolling out resources to provide aid to anyone who needs it in English, Spanish, Portuguese, French, and Arabic.

The Audacious Project is a collaborative approach to funding big ideas and announced Crisis Text Line as one of their three 2020 grantees spearheading bold and innovative responses to COVID-19.

The announcement comes at a time when Crisis Text Line's services are more important than ever. Since the beginning of March, Crisis Text Line has seen a 40 per cent increase in text volume due to the mental health echo of COVID-19 and the quarantines.

Co-founder and CEO Nancy Lublin announced this accelerated plan via a TED Talk at "TED2020: The Prequel", where Crisis Text Line was revealed as one of three 2020 Audacious projects spearheading bold and innovative responses to COVID-19.

The original goal was to do five languages in five years, but COVID-19 and the quarantines have created a mental health crisis, so Crisis Text Line slashed its timeline by 50 per cent and will complete this audacious plan by the end of 2022.

"The need for Crisis Text Line's services is greater than ever as the novel coronavirus pandemic – including the secondary impact of quarantines – fuels a mental health crisis," said Anna Verghese, Executive Director, The Audacious Project at TED. "We're grateful to be able to support Crisis Text Line as they scale and improve access to mental health services for a greater number of communities across the globe."

The Audacious Project was brought to life through the collaboration of some of the most respected names in the non-profit world, including Skoll, the Bill & Melinda Gates FoundationScott Cook & Signe Ostby and more. Virgin Unite is proud to be one of the key partners to have joined forces to help make this possible.

Each year, The Audacious Project supports a new cohort. The Audacious Project is proud to unveil Crisis Text Line, The Collins Lab and ACEGID as the first of eight new grantees from the 2020 cohort. With their bold solutions to COVID-19, these projects are delivering an audacious response to some of the world’s biggest – and most urgent – challenges. The remainder of the cohort will be announced in the coming weeks.