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Monday, November 29, 2021

Xbox helps people connect through Crisis Text Line.

Every day people visit Xbox to have fun, relax, and take care of their stress.

Sometimes they need someone to calm them down from a hot moment.

Thanks to Xbox’s partnership with Crisis Text Line, they can reach out to a mental health resource if they need it. Xbox refers people monthly to this non-profit organization that provides text-based 24/7 support. It connects those in crisis to more than 27,000 volunteer crisis counselors across the U.S.

Dena Trujillo is the interim chief executive officer of Crisis Text Line. She has been a member of the board for six years. Since August 2013, the Crisis Text Line has had 5 million conversations directly with people and through various partnerships. People come to us for help with anxiety, depression, trauma, and suicide ideation. The entire spectrum is covered. We have a triage system that allows us to quickly reach people in the greatest and most urgent need when they come to us.

The top three issues they received from all sources over the past year were stress, depression, and relationships. This New York-based company helps to create individual safety plans and deescalate situations via a platform called texting. It makes it easy for everyone of any age to reach out in safety.

Depending on the situation, phone calls can be dangerous and inconvenient.

After the Xbox Safety Team had encountered customers in need of help outside of gaming, Xbox joined forces with Crisis Text Line to offer support. One out of every five adults will experience some form of mental health condition in the general population.

“Xbox Live has 100 million monthly active users,” says Jason Coon, head of safety for Xbox. “If there are that many people gathering anywhere, it’s likely you will have people in crisis.”

Trujillo said that it’s not unusual for people to be unsure of where to find help.

Trujillo states that people will call customer service or helplines if they are in crisis. Trust and safety teams are often our partners because they tell us that people in the situation should reach out to them. They don’t know what to do because their business isn’t mental health.

In November, the Xbox Safety Team formalized a support path called Click to Call for Safety. Suppose someone has a safety concern, such as online harassment, that Xbox’s direct reporting system cannot address. In that case, they can request a callback, and a customer service representative will contact them to investigate further. These customer service agents are trained to handle such situations and pass them on to the Xbox Safety Team.

These efforts are parallel to the Crisis Text Line partnership, which can pick up situations beyond Xbox.

Coon states that Crisis Text Line fills a need. It serves a need that was not being met, Coon says. This is because people in emotional crisis who expressed it on Xbox weren’t getting the help they required – unless the situation escalated to an imminent danger. We were unable to assist at the extreme ends of this spectrum. Our users now have more options to get the help they need. We also can empower our agents to assist with a wide range of crisis issues.

Trujillo claims that Crisis Text Line has handled 5,383 calls from 2,285 U.S-based texters since Xbox started referring them to it. 62% of those texters said they had shared something they hadn’t shared before in the chats. Ninety percent found the conversations helpful.

Xbox crisis texters talk most often about relationships, depression, and anxiety/stress. They also mention school and suicide.

Counselors in crisis can pass on the information they have gathered from their clients better to understand the dynamics and dimensions of the problem.

“We knew data would be at the center of everything we did from the start,” says Danah Boyd (a Microsoft partner researcher), who has been on Crisis Text Line’s board since its inception eight years ago. She is currently its chairperson.

She explained that data enhances rather than automates their work.

They can rank their services based on the information they have. They can also see how many people call them when they are in distress and what topics they talk about. They can then better manage available resources, such as scheduling more counselors at specific times.

Boyd also says that data helps crisis counselors to learn from one another. This translates into improving their care for people in crisis and “helping this field grow so that all who are passionate about mental health can better serve those in need.”

Nearly 83 percent of Xbox texters have identified themselves as being age 24 or younger. More than half also consider themselves LGBTQ+.

Boyd said that she sought online support as a young queer teenager during the 1990s.

Boyd says, “I often consider the internet to be my saving grace.” “I returned in as a researcher to try and understand these communities. I discovered that many queer children were being harassed and faced with hate and were still seeking help online. The internet allows people to connect when they need it and when they need support.

Boyd is a researcher who studies gaming culture and gamers. He has witnessed communities formed from the need to connect with like-minded individuals.

She says, “The point of the partnership is to work with people who have mental health expertise and know-how.” The beauty of technology is its ability to connect dots in new ways. Crisis Text Line connects people. When someone is in crisis and doesn’t have the support they need, they can reach trained counselors available to them. It is a joy to be part of a project that brings together technology and people to help those in their most difficult moments.

May is Mental Health Awareness Month. Text HOME to 741741, or use Facebook Messenger to connect with a Crisis Counselor at Crisis Text Line.

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