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Crisis Text Line Releases Third Annual Data Report on Mental Health in America

Self-harm and grief rise among young adults in the aftermath of COVID-19

NEW YORK CITY, May 31, 2022 /PRNewswire/ -- Today Crisis Text Line, a not-for-profit organization that provides free, 24/7 text-based mental health support, released its third annual national data report, "United in Empathy: What 1.3 Million Conversations Say About The State of Mental Health In America" identifying the top issues for texters in 2021. Anyone can text HELLO to 741741 to be connected to a live, trained crisis counselor. 

Data from the national report paints a picture of a generation of young adults experiencing a mental health crisis.

In 2021, over 20,000 people donated their time to connect with strangers as volunteer Crisis Counselors at Crisis Text Line. During the second year of the pandemic, these volunteer counselors had 1.3 million conversations with people in crisis. Over seventy percent of conversations were with texters under age 25, providing a unique snapshot of the mental health issues for young Americans.

Data from the national report paints a picture of a generation of young adults experiencing a collective mental health crisis. Exploring these 40 million anonymized and de-identified messages through natural language processing helped paint a picture of the most prominent emotions on our texters' minds last year. The words that soared in popularity compared to 2020 were Trauma, Triggered, Therapist, Plans, and Exhausting.

"Gen Z is in crisis. Through our conversations with texters, we are seeing the impact of the pandemic, particularly on the mental health of teens who experienced significant disruptions in their school and social lives." said Dena Trujillo, CEO of Crisis Text Line. "While we can't eliminate the root causes of anxiety, grief, and eating disorders, together, we can provide support and hope through empathetic conversations between volunteers and texters that help texters in crisis find healthy ways to cope. By training volunteers to empathize with strangers via text, we are helping young people in their moments of need and building a more empathetic world."

Key findings of the report include:

High anxiety: In 2020, Crisis Text Line reported that anxiety reached record highs in our conversations – especially in the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2021, anxiety levels among texters dropped slightly, but overall, they have yet to return to 2019 levels. This is consistent with the findings of the American Psychological Association (APA), which reported that the range of anxiety for U.S. adults was four times higher between March 2020 and August 2021 than in 2019.

Rising rates of grief: Texters were 13% more likely to bring up grief and bereavement in 2021 compared to 2019, and this topic kept creeping up throughout the past two years, from 4.3% to 4.8% of conversations. This increase in Crisis Text Line conversations about grief is a stark reminder that the mental health effects of the pandemic are going to last long after infection rates and hospitalizations taper off.

Eating and body image issues: The rise in eating and body image issues in our conversations was sharper than the rising rates of grief. Texters were 17% more likely to bring up these issues in 2021 compared to before the pandemic (going from 3.1% to 3.7% of conversations).

Crisis Text Line is actively recruiting for volunteers who would like to train to become a volunteer Crisis Counselor. During the free 30-hour training, volunteers learn how to bring texters from a hot moment to a cool calm through active listening, collaborative problem solving, and safety planning. Applicants must be 18 or older, and have access to reliable Internet access and a personal computer. Information on volunteering can be found at

The full report is available online at  

About Crisis Text Line: Crisis Text Line provides free, 24-7, high-quality text-based mental health support and crisis intervention by empowering a community of trained volunteers to support people in their moments of need. Text HELLO to 741741 to be connected to a live, trained volunteer Crisis Counselor. Crisis Counselors complete a 30-hour training and have 24/7 supervision by full-time Crisis Text Line mental health professionals.