This service is a new way for teenagers around South Africa to reach out for help as many, feeling uncomfortable expressing themselves verbally, often prefer to communicate via sms. The teen types a message into the sms facility on his or her cell phone then sends the message to 31393. No key words or e-mail addresses are needed. This message comes directly to the SADAG call centre computers within seconds. At the call center, a skilled counselor replies to this message by typing a response into the computer, this reply appears on the teen’s screen in the format of an sms.
This service is instant and a teen will never get a busy signal when he or she is in crisis. This service is also cheaper than a telephone call, as messages are charged at standard sms rates. In this way, teenagers around the country can get help, information, and practical advice on how to deal with depression and suicidal feelings. The teens can also request school talks and find mental health resources in their area.
This service is available across all three cell phone networks. MTN, Voda Com and Cell C have all agreed to apply standard cell phone rates for the sms’s, so there is no premium rate. This service is powered by Stouf Communications, who donated all software and technical support to SADAG.
Purpose: Facilitating Patient Communications (Privacy)