Thanks to an ECF grant, more than 50,000 Albertan’s are accessing daily mental health support through the Mental Health Foundation’s Text4Hope project
“When bad things happen that we can’t control, we often focus on the things we can’t change. Focus on what you can control.” This is one of the daily text messages that Sharon Loveridge receives from Text4Hope.
The Covid-19 pandemic has caused a lot of uncertainty and anxiety for Albertans. Many, including Loveridge, experienced a decline in mental health.
“There are days when you feel good, there are days when you feel bad, and there are days when you’re anxious about the future,” says Loveridge. “It was nice to have some support and I think one of the things that it did was make you feel like there wasn’t something wrong with you.”
The pandemic impacted individuals in many ways, but especially in terms of mental health. Individuals are faced with the stress of economic uncertainty, social isolation, and family pressures.
The Mental Health Foundation partnered with Alberta Health Services to launch a free subscription text messaging service, called Text4Hope, shortly after the pandemic began escalating in Alberta.
“It was deemed something that could be deployed really quickly for not a lot of money and the research has proven that it does reduce symptoms around stress, anxiety, and depression for those who access the service,” said Mark Korthuis, President and CEO of the Mental Health Foundation.
Edmonton Community Foundation (ECF) provided a $100,000 grant to the Mental Health Foundation to kickstart Text4Hope. The free daily text service had 20,000 subscriptions within the first two days. Now the subscriptions sit at more than 50,000 people.
“We know that many people will need support during a crisis like this and that a tool like Text4Hope can help some people better cope with our situation,” said Craig Stumpf-Allen, ECF’s Director of Grants and Community Engagement.
Text4Hope was developed by a team of mental health professionals and organizations after they experienced a similar downturn in mental health during the Fort McMurray forest fires in 2016. A similar text service called Text4Mood was launched, and they used the research to create Text4Hope.
“The Edmonton Community Foundation plays such an important role in helping to catalyze action when urgent needs are at the forefront,” said Korthuis. “If it wasn’t for ECF, I’m not sure that we would have had this program get off the ground at all.”
Thanks to ECF, Loveridge and other subscribers can count on Text4Hope for daily support in these uncertain times.
“I think it was through my experience with Text4Hope that I really benefited from it,” Loveridge says. “I felt it was a tool that was geared towards the everyday person and towards an unusual isolating pandemic where you don’t have the social network that maybe you have in your everyday life.”
Learn more about ECF’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic here.