Samaritans of Singapore (SOS) has officially launched its new text-based service, SOS Care Text on 10 October 2020, Saturday, in conjunction with World Mental Health Day. The official launch event was livestreamed on the SOS official Facebook page.
To provide an additional and alternative avenue for emotional support through text messaging, the SOS Care Text is the newest addition to SOS’ existing services such as the 24-hour Hotline and Email Befriending. This service is manned by trained volunteers from 6pm to 6am on weekdays except public holidays. Individuals in distress may wish to reach out to SOS via SOS Facebook Messenger or via SOS’ website at sos.org.sg.
The service was launched after months of preparation and received support from various partners including Facebook. Since its pilot launch on 1st July 2020, the service has attended to over 1,000 chats. Majority of users are aged 29 years and below, with females accounting for 73% of total text clients.
In a survey conducted by SOS earlier this year, 61% of respondents indicated text messaging as their preferred medium for help seeking. SOS highlighted that unlike other mediums of communication, texting is not only accessible and convenient but also allows individuals who prefer writing to receive emotional support in real time.
SOS Care Text thus hopes to fill the existing gap in current services and provide an outlet for clients to share about their struggles, especially for those who do not have a safe physical space.
SOS’ chief executive, Mr Gasper Tan added, “The need to ensure individuals in distress have an accessible and available platform to share about their struggles has become an even larger priority since Circuit Breaker”. He then further elaborated, “It is important to lower the barriers to early help-seeking behaviour and by using a commonly used mobile application, it may be less intimidating to some”.
As part of its efforts to increase the accessibility of this service, SOS had collaborated with NCSS Beyond the Label since 17 September 2020. This partnership allows clients who expressed any intention to harm oneself on the Belle Bot platform to be directed to SOS Care Text to be attended to by SOS trained volunteers.
Furthermore, in the context of World Mental Health Day, SOS collaborated with Facebook and Instagram to expand their outreach efforts. They will be the cornerstone partner in the launch of Instagram Guides in Singapore. SOS, in partnership with Joel Lim, will be producing a series of mental wellbeing resources. Content will include pointers on the importance of meaningful connections, suggestions on how to look out for loved ones, and self-care tips. All this will be done as part of the inaugural mental wellness initiative, #Heartbits.
More volunteers still required
The SOS Care Text is currently operational from 6pm to 6am from Monday to Friday, except weekends and public holidays. However the organisation aims for the service to transit into being available 24/7, similar to the SOS 24-hour Hotline.
To help provide round the clock comfort to those facing crises, SOS needs the support of a pool of dedicated volunteers who are passionate in the work of suicide prevention. To help achieve this goal, SOS is appealing for more volunteer applications to support the cause.
Those who are keen to apply may wish to email to firstname.lastname@example.org.