As millions of courageous healthcare workers continue their work to combat the COVID-19 crisis, this ingenious new service allows you to send unconditional messages of love and support to a frontline hero—and get one in return.
The Text For Humanity switchboard, created by Sinch in partnership with Mental Health America (MHA), originally launched in January to combat online negativity and promote the sharing of positive messages between strangers.
To date, more than 83,000 messages of positivity have been exchanged across 85 countries.
As the world moves into the next phase of the crisis, #TextForHumanity now enables people choosing to participate to identify themselves as either a frontline worker, or someone living in isolation. In turn, senders can choose the group they would like to send a personalized message of thanks and support. Frontline workers include anyone from nurses and doctors to delivery drivers and grocery store staffers—people performing the vital jobs that are keeping society going.
There is no charge for the service; neither Sinch nor MHA profit from Text For Humanity.
However, MHA’s screening numbers have been growing since the start of the pandemic. MHA has seen a 70% increase in the number of people taking an anxiety (GAD-7) screen and a 64% increase in the number of people taking a depression (PHQ-9) screen between January and April.
According to the UK’s Office of National Statistics, nearly half (46.9%) of adults have reported high levels of anxiety through this period, with 51% saying the crisis was affecting their wellbeing.
“These are worrying times for many people and psychological wellbeing is severely impacted,” said Paul Gionfriddo, president and CEO of Mental Health America. “Prolonged isolation can increase incidences of poor mental health, particularly for the most vulnerable in society. And then there’s the incredible burden placed on brave frontline workers. People putting their own lives at risk while saving others, and keeping society safe and functioning. We see Text For Humanity as an important route to engage them.”
Text For Humanity is now enabled by WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, and regular text messaging so it’s easy for anyone with even the most basic phone to join. This is particularly important for the elderly who are among the least likely to own a smartphone.
To join the service, text JOIN to 37352 (U.S. only) or +1 833-421-4726 (additional international number options and links to WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger are available through the platform’s website). The service will ask for a couple of simple details including whether you are a frontline worker or living in isolation. As before, all data is stored securely, and no personal or identifying details will be known or shared.
You can then write a short message that gives a frontline worker or someone in isolation a smile (if you need some tips to help get started, you can visit the Text For Humanity website).
Once you’ve sent the message, Text For Humanity will share it with a fellow human somewhere in the world. Not only that, you will then receive a positive message from a stranger on your own phone. Messages you receive can also be transformed into vibrant and personalized artwork that can be easily shared from a smartphone on social media.
The service is currently run in English language only. You can opt out at any time by simply replying STOP to the service.
“MHA and similar organizations will play a vital role in supporting society through this challenging period,” said Oscar Werner, Chief Executive Officer at Sinch. “Knowing the impact Text For Humanity achieved in a small space of time, we felt the switchboard could do more to aid the global COVID-19 effort.
“It was originally designed to send positivity to any stranger. After witnessing coordinated acts of thanks, hope and unity between frontline workers and those in isolation, we were inspired to create something that helps amplify this energy.”
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