LGBTQ+ folks can now text a new mental health hotline

An illustration of two hands tapping on a tablet, which displays the Folx Health webpage

With anti-LGBTQ+ bills continuing to sweep the nation — and an impending election on the horizon — the mental health of LGBTQ+ community members is in dire straits.

This is on top of the mental health challenges LGBTQ+ folks — especially youth — face day-to-day, fighting stigma, social isolation, lack of familial acceptance, and more. 

According to a 2023 survey from The Trevor Project — a nonprofit that works to prevent suicide in LGBTQ+ youth — 41% of LGBTQ+ young people seriously considered attempting suicide within the past year, with transgender, nonbinary, and/or people of color reporting higher rates than their peers.

Even more frustrating is that 56% of LGBTQ+ young people who wanted mental health care during that time were not able to get it. 

Fortunately, FOLX Health and Crisis Text Line have entered the chat.

FOLX is the first of its kind; a nationwide LGBTQ+ digital healthcare service provider that helps LGBTQ+ people access virtual primary care, hormone replacement therapy, PrEP, and more in an affordable and safe way.

Founded in 2020, the platform has quickly grown to offer more services, including an HRT Care Fund, which redistributes financial resources from allies to support trans, nonbinary, and intersex folks who need hormone replacement therapy. 

Most recently, FOLX has begun to expand its mental health services. One major way this is done is through a newly announced partnership with Crisis Text Line, a nonprofit that provides free, confidential, 24/7 text-based mental health support and crisis intervention.

Now, LGBTQ+ individuals seeking support can text FOLX to 741741 to reach a live volunteer crisis counselor. Support is available in both English and Spanish, and according to a press release, over 50% of Crisis Text Line texters identify as LGBTQ+. 

A Black person and Asian person sit closely and smile while looking at a phone
Photo courtesy of FOLX Health

The new partnership has an especially meaningful inception story, too. It was initiated by the FOLX Health VP of Engineering, John Moore, who volunteers as a crisis counselor with Crisis Text Line. Knowing that FOLX would be expanding its mental health services, he realized this service would be vital to those offerings. 

While other similar platforms are available — like Trans Lifeline, for example — more mental health support for more queer folks is a net-good.

“In a healthcare landscape ill-equipped to meet our needs, FOLX is committed to forging a comprehensive healthcare haven accessible to all,” Liana Douillet Guzmán, CEO of FOLX Health, said in a press release.

“Our partnership with Crisis Text Line ensures that no matter what the circumstance or where you are, our members have a direct line to trained, mental health counselors when they need it.”

The text line is available by text message, web, and WhatsApp and claims to connect users with a live, trained crisis counselor within five minutes. 

It also comes at an especially necessary time. After the tragic death of Nex Benedict, a transgender teen in Oklahoma, the state saw a dramatic increase in crisis calls, with 69% of users citing the tragedy as the impetus for their distress. 

Although LGBTQ+ youth should never have to experience such trauma, ostracization, or fear for their lives, tools like Crisis Text Line provide a much-needed resource in the tool belt to protect queer kids.

“We are honored to… ensure [FOLX users] receive free, confidential and nonjudgmental mental health support anytime of the day,” Dena Trujillo, CEO at Crisis Text Line, said in a statement. 

“Together, we champion inclusivity, amplify voices, and create safe spaces where every individual’s journey to healing and self-discovery is supported.”

Along with the new text line, FOLX has rolled out other mental health services, like medication counseling, mental health courses, support groups and events, and virtual therapy for users in California, Colorado, and Florida, with more states on the way.

According to a press release, FOLX found that 59% of members who had suicide ideation before using the platform did not have suicide ideation in follow-up counseling.

Plus, 39% of FOLX members had an improvement in their quality of life score within three months.

“At FOLX Health, we recognize the disproportionate challenges our members face, with mental health issues occurring at rates four to five times higher than the general population,” Douillet said. 

“And yet, we’ve found that our affirming and expert care focused on the needs of the queer community has led to transformative outcomes.”

At the end of the day, experts from both organizations are hopeful that this new partnership will lead to even greater increases in well-being, as LGBTQ+ youth are lovingly shepherded through an especially challenging time in their lives.

A joint statement from FOLX and Crisis Text Line said: “[This partnership] is an impactful step in creating access to mental health support for the LGBTQIA+ community like never before.”

Header image courtesy of FOLX Health

Article Details

March 27, 2024 10:12 AM
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