This week, The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge spoke to a family on a video call about the life-saving support Shout 85258 provided to their twelve-year-old son when he was at a point of crisis, considering ending his life.

The family spoke to The Duke and Duchess about the circumstances that led their son to reach out to Shout. After suffering from high levels of anxiety and poor mental health which were exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, he had reached the decision to take his own life. However, on receiving support from a Shout Volunteer via the anonymous textline, he was able to contact the police for help instead of ending his life, before starting to open up about the extent of his challenges.

Shout 85258 is the UK’s first 24/7 text messaging support service, offering a free and confidential platform for conversations around mental health to ensure no-one has to face their problems alone. The service was researched and developed with The Royal Foundation as a legacy of the Heads Together campaign and was set up with a £2m grant from The Royal Foundation.

To date 2,400 trained Shout Volunteers, supported by clinical supervisors, have helped to provide a critical lifeline for over 265,000 texters across the UK, and the service has taken more than 630,000 conversations. A landmark report recently released by the service identified that 7% of Shout texters were aged 13 and under. The main issues identified from 45,000 conversations with this age group include:

  • Suicide (31% of conversations)
  • Anxiety (28%)
  • Self-harm (24%)
  • Bullying (9%).

Many young people often feel more comfortable using text messaging as a way of reaching out for mental health support or talking about issues which they might struggle to speak about out loud or face to face. During their conversation with the family, the young boy spoke to The Duke and Duchess about how it felt easier to be able to communicate his feelings over text to the volunteer who answered his message.

Shout has so far been able to support the mental health of 18,000 children aged 13 or under, with 90% indicating that the conversation they had was helpful.  During the call, the parents told Their Royal Highnesses that they were in no doubt that the support their son received through Shout saved his life and spoke about their hopes for the future as he continues to receive help via local Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS).

Anyone can text SHOUT to 85258 for free, confidential, 24/7 mental health support.

For more information, click here.

This service is doing exactly what we hoped it would, which is be there for families in crisis. It’s nice to be able to speak to you directly and hear about what has gone on here, how it has helped you, and really what it has done.’

– The Duke of Cambridge