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Shout is a free text messaging support service, available 24/7 to anyone in the UK who is struggling to cope. Every single minute, someone reaches out to Shout for support and has a conversation that could save their life. Our trained volunteers and clinicians are there around the clock to support texters whenever they need us, listening without judgement, helping them to a calmer state so that they can discuss and develop a personal safety plan with signposting to further support where needed. Where a texter is deemed to be at imminent risk of suicide, Shout works with the emergency services to intervene.

In our first four years, Shout has scaled to take two million conversations with 675,000 children, young people and adults who have needed immediate mental health support.

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We have teams in the UK and New Zealand working around the clock, offering support to the UK public when most other mental health services are not available. Anyone can text SHOUT to 85258 to receive support, at any time of day or night.

At the cutting edge of digital innovation

Shout uses anonymised, aggregated data from our thousands of conversations, to generate unique insights into the mental health of the UK population. We use these insights to enhance our services and report on trends to inform the broader mental health sector.

Shout’s text-based conversations can be analysed using computational methods. We use groundbreaking data science, machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI), to apply the most advanced techniques to understanding our data and using it for social impact.

In particular, we believe that Mental Health Innovations has a unique opportunity to be a leader in leveraging the powerful, fast-moving advancements in generative AI to enhance the Shout service. To do this we have developed a generative AI role-play simulator available for trainee volunteers. Almost all trainees that have used this simulator report that it has helped them practise the skills they learned in training and made them feel more confident.

“The volunteer I spoke to tonight was absolutely fantastic. Calmed me down, listened to what I was saying, ensured I had the relevant resources before I left.

They quite literally saved my life tonight.”

Shout texter

Shout and suicide prevention

The issue most frequently arising in Shout conversations is suicide and 38% of Shout users are experiencing suicidal ideation. The service is instrumental in preventing tragedies that might have otherwise occurred in moments of desperation. Many of our texters tell us that, without our support in their moment of crisis, they would have taken their own lives.

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De-escalation of risk

Shout Volunteers are trained to assess risk and de-escalate texters experiencing suicidal thoughts or urges. They engage warmly with texters, validate their experience, de-escalate their situation and support them to make a safety plan. When de-escalation is not possible and a texter is deemed to be at imminent risk of suicide, Shout works with the emergency services to keep the texter safe. From two million conversations, Shout has actioned 27,810 emergency interventions.

Our 2022 report ‘Shout’s role in UK suicide prevention’ brought together evidence from Frontier Economics and the Institute of Global Health Innovation, Imperial College, to highlight the role Shout plays in suicide prevention and the benefits to the UK economy.

The report was launched at an event at the Royal Society of Chemistry with a keynote speech from Sajid Javid MP.

"Shout and their volunteers are at the forefront of digital innovation in suicide prevention and are making a huge difference. I saw the importance of their work as Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, and this report highlights once again the incredible impact they have.”

- Rt. Hon. Sajid Javid MP, former Secretary of State for Health and Social Care

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Supporting government strategy

We are committed to using our clinical expertise and data insights to support others across the sector and beyond. This has included working with the government as a member of the Department of Health & Social Care’s (DHSC) National Suicide Prevention Strategy Advisory Group (NSPSAG). We were encouraged by the 2023 National Suicide Prevention Strategy which recognises the vital role that data plays in suicide prevention, the importance of early intervention, the value of crisis text lines and the focus on some of the most vulnerable groups in society; who are strongly represented in the users of Shout.

Case study - Google OneBox

40% of Shout’s texters find us on Google and in June 2021 we partnered with them to signpost from the OneBox for search terms relating to suicide. Now, around 2% of our daily conversations are with people signposted to us after making potentially harmful searches. This proves the efficacy of these types of intervention to divert users from their course of action.

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