Crisis texting line implemented for Iowa State students


Crisis Text Line is a way for students having issues such as depression, suicidal thoughts or anxiety to receive support as simply as texting “ISU” to 741741. 

Tara Larson

A new service is being provided to Iowa State students for immediate crisis attention.

A crisis texting line was recently implemented by Iowa State. The school worked with Crisis Text Line, a national hotline for people needing help in difficult situations. The only difference between a traditional hotline and this organization’s is that the communication is restricted to texting.

Crises could be anything a student is having trouble with and needs to talk to someone about. These could range from feelings of anxiety or depression to suicidal thoughts.

Joyce Davidson, interim director of Iowa State’s Student Counseling Services, believes that this new service will be beneficial to students because they might not prefer to make a phone call, or might not be in a position where they can talk freely about a problem.

“We feel this serves students very well,” Davidson said. “This will help someone in crisis to get some support or consultation.”

Erin Baldwin, Thielen Student Health Center director, agreed with Davidson.

“We just really want to make sure our students have resources if they’re in a crisis,” Baldwin said. “Wherever they feel comfortable reaching out for a resource, we want them to know this is an option.”

All a student needs to do is text “ISU” to 741741, and a crisis counselor will respond within minutes. This service operates 24/7.

The idea of the texting line is to provide people with a confidential, free service needed when facing a crisis. The trained counselors gain trust with whomever they are texting and help the person out of a crisis situation.

They then work out a plan to help the person in danger and provide local resources to them if need be.

Anyone can use Crisis Text Line in the United States by texting “HELLO” to 741741 instead of “ISU.” But the idea of having a specific keyword is to get data about students using the service.

“We don’t get any specific information, but we get trends,” Baldwin said. “We can look at these and say, ‘These are trends happening with our students, maybe we need to offer some different services or resources.’”

Allen Wang, senior in aerospace engineering, initially brought up the idea to school administration in spring of 2016.

“I saw an article on the internet about [Crisis Text Line, which] is transforming the way people can find support through life challenges,” Wang said. “I had to get involved.”

Wang brought up the idea to Student Counseling Services and eventually presented the idea to its board. The school began research and development as well as worked with Crisis Text Line.

The service contract was signed by the school in December 2016, but promotions did not begin until just last week.

“We wanted to make sure we had all of our ducks in a row,” Deanna Sargent, marketing coordinator for the Thielen Student Health Center, said on why they waited to promote this until January. “We figured with everybody coming back for the second semester it would be the best time to kick it off.”

Crisis counselors are located throughout the country and are volunteers trained by professionals. To learn more about becoming a volunteer crisis counselor or for more information on the organization, check out the Crisis Text Line website.

For more information on Iowa State’s services, check out the websites for Thielen Student Health Center, Student Counseling Services and Student Wellness.