If your organisation offers emotional support to people in distress, then chances are you’ll be using phonelines, email and perhaps texts to receive and answer those calls for help. So what can Twitter add to this mix, and is the microblogging site really an appropriate medium for hearing and responding to those needing support? Here are three different approaches being used by charities, volunteers and people who want to help.
The Samaritans is perhaps the best known provider of confidential emotional support in the UK, and in 2011 their 20,000 volunteers answered nearly 2.5 million calls to their helpline.
The charity’s Twitter account, @samaritans, is not used as a channel for people to seek help, but instead is an excellent way for the charity to thanks and update its supporters, signpost to resources, and repeat their phone number and email address for people needing support.
Sane aims to improve the quality of life of people experiencing mental illness. Its helpline services allow people to seek help via phone, email and through a moderated support forum.
In addition to these services, the charity has a ‘send a text, save a life’ campaign which encourages people to contact loved ones who may be experiencing a mental health crisis. The campaign has been translated onto Twitter, using the hashtag #sendatextsavealife:
Another peer-support approach has been adopted by Twitterbuddy. The scheme aims to tackle feelings of isolation on the microblogging site by giving people someone to speak to via Twitter when they need it.
Although 24/7 support is not offered or guaranteeed, the scheme does help to give people someone to turn to for advice and support when it’s needed. Anyone interested in becoming a buddy or getting one can follow @Become_a_Buddy or use the hashtag #TwitterBuddyScheme.
Do you know of any other services operating emotional or crisis support via Twitter?