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In this report we look back at the development of Mental Health Innovations and Shout over the past four years. In June 2023 we celebrated the amazing milestone of two million Shout conversations. Our extraordinary community of volunteers, in partnership with our expert clinical team, has enabled us to help more than 675,000 people who were struggling to cope.

Since the public launch of the service in May 2019, we have scaled rapidly and now support between 1,500 and 2,000 conversations every day. Leveraging the power of digital has enabled us to build a game-changing service able to respond to the enormous challenges posed by the Covid-19 pandemic, the cost of living crisis and a steep decline in the nation’s mental health.

Alongside our purpose-built technology, we use groundbreaking data science, machine learning and artificial intelligence to analyse Shout’s text-based conversations, understand our data and use it for social impact. This report looks at the range of issues faced by our texters. Suicidal thoughts is the most common reason that people contact Shout and we have grown to play a significant role in suicide prevention in the UK. We know that some groups are more likely to experience suicidal ideation and that a text service particularly resonates with vulnerable populations. These include children and young people, people living in poverty, autistic people, expectant and new mothers, the LGBTQ+ community and the prison population.

Shout’s digital platform appeals to young people, with 62% of texters aged under 25. Three-quarters of our texters are female, reflecting the rapid decline in poor mental health in girls and young women. We can see that neurodiverse people are particularly drawn to a text-based service; our texters are many times more likely to self-identify as autistic than the UK population. Non-judgemental mental health support is critical for all of our texters and especially so for people from the LGBTQ+ community which represents more than a third of our service users. In 2023, we began offering our service to people in prison, in partnership with Serco. By the end of this year, we will be providing 24/7 support for people in three prisons and hope to be able to extend this service more widely in the future.

In addition to the Shout service, we have extended our support to a further three million people through the provision of resources on our website and provided high quality information and content through our social media channels. We have also developed digital and in-person mental health training, consultancy and tools to help employers to improve workforce wellbeing.

Finally, we have supported policy makers, third sector and public sector bodies, academic institutions and the corporate sector by sharing our knowledge and data insights to improve the understanding of mental health in the UK.

We could not have achieved any of this without our incredible volunteers, dedicated team and our funders and supporters, to whom I would like to express my immense gratitude. My final thanks is to our texters who have shown extraordinary courage and strength in contacting us. It is a privilege to be able to offer our support when it is needed most.

Victoria Hornby photo and signature.png

Victoria Hornby OBE
CEO, Mental Health Innovations