SINCE the onset of the COVID-19 global pandemic, mental health services like SpunOut.ie have been coping with an unprecedented rise in young people seeking support.
Now, with the help of world-renowned singer Demi Lovato, we are doing our best to raise the funds we need to keep our services free and accessible to every young person who needs them.
It will come as no surprise that the current health emergency is having a profound mental health impact on many of those living through it. So much of our ordinary lives have been turned on their heads, with young people among the most susceptible to feelings of anxiety, isolation or worry for the future.
As Ireland’s youth information website, SpunOut.ie has been at the forefront of providing help and support to those young people who need it — but as a charity, our resources have been stretched tight in doing so.
Just before the virus hit, SpunOut.ie launched a free, 24/7 crisis text service. Anyone experiencing a crisis can contact a trained volunteer by texting SPUNOUT to 086 1800 280, after which we do our best to guide the texter from a hot moment to a place of cool calm. Demand for our service has shot up by 60% since the pandemic began, with a doubling of those texters reporting anxiety or stress in the same period.
Tellingly, COVID-19 has become a near-constant feature of the texts we receive. Fully one-third of our conversations see texters directly referencing the virus, with many more making reference to the effects that lockdown, social isolation, quarantining or the cancelling of life events has been having on their mental wellbeing.
At the same time, one in five of those reaching out to us for support have told us they are having thoughts of suicide. These are stark figures, and our volunteers have been working round the clock to make sure that every young person who texts in with a crisis receives the help they need. Like so many other frontline services, we are doing our best to carry out these essential functions with the funding available to us. However, as demand for mental health services continues to rise, so too does the cost of meeting them.
This is why we are currently asking for donations to keep our services running at the highest possible capacity. In this, we have been privileged to receive the support and advocacy of Grammy-nominated American musician Demi Lovato, who has given her backing to an international fundraising effort to keep services like ours running in Ireland, Canada, the UK and USA.
Our goal is to raise €4.6 million for crisis mental health health services worldwide, with €350,000 going directly to maintain and expand our services for the young people of Ireland. Already, with the support of Royal Bank of Canada, Virgin Unite and Draper Richards Kaplan we have raised €1.8 million towards our overall goal - but we will need much more to provide the level of service now needed.
Demi Lovato herself said it best when describing the importance of these funds to the provision of quality mental health services in this difficult global moment. In launching the fundraiser, Lovato reflected on how:
“So many people have been left alone with their thoughts, their abusers, their anxieties - and are struggling with the uncertainty of these times. I know not everyone has the ability to get the help they need so my hope is that this fund can bring support to help alleviate some of the hardship and pain people are going through.”
Her support has been vital in getting the word out for the need for services like ours. But, without meeting our fundraising targets, it will simply not be possible to continue with the level of service needed to meet the ever-growing demand for a text-based crisis intervention service.
In these difficult times, we know just how hard it is for each of us to get by. However, every donation, however small, helps towards achieving our essential goal. We ask that everyone who understands the need for reliable mental health supports, and who has the capacity to do so, supports our work at GoFundMe.com/TheMentalHealthFund.
As the current crisis continues, days will continue to be filled with uncertainty and worry for some young people. SpunOut.ie will continue to be there throughout, to help those in Ireland who might be struggling with any issue, no matter how big or small. As we reach out for support to keep our vital work going, we are grateful to every supporter of the Mental Health Fund for every donation they make. It is only through their support we can make sure to be there for any young person who needs us during the unprecedented weeks and months to come.
About Crisis Text Line
Crisis Text Line provides free, 24/7, confidential support for people in crisis via text. Crisis Volunteers complete a 30-hour training and have 24/7 supervision by full-time Crisis Text Line mental health professionals.
SpunOut.ie is Ireland’s leading youth website by young people, for young people with over 1.6 million readers in 2019. SpunOut.ie is a project of Community Creations CLG, a registered charity in Ireland funded in part by the Health Service Executive (HSE) and the Department of Children & Youth Affairs.
In Ireland, text SPUNOUT to 086 1800 280 to be connected to a trained Crisis Volunteer.