A new text based mental health service funded by the HSE launched this month. ‘50808’ is a first of its kind for Ireland, a free 24/7 text service, providing everything from a calming chat to immediate support for people going through a mental health or emotional crisis. Doireann Garrihy launched the service via a Zoom event with Simon Harris TD, Minister for Health, Jim Daly, Minister for Mental Health and Anne O’Connor, Chief Operations Officer HSE.
Since the service began its pilot in September last year, it has provided support to 3,801 people through 6,694 conversations. It is expected that ‘50808’ will support over 50,000 people each year once fully operational.
Of the almost four thousand people supported;
832 people were thinking about suicide
360 people were self-harming
The top issues discussed
were: Anxiety/stress (40%), Depression/sadness (32%), Relationships (29%), Isolation/loneliness (23%) and Suicide (18%)
80% of texters have been between the ages of 16 and 34
65% of texters were female, 24% male, 2% transgender and 2% non-binary
The service uses an artificial intelligence (AI) system to analyse a texter’s initial message, scanning keywords, phrases, and even emojis to determine the level of severity. The texter’s at most imminent risk are placed at the top of the queue.