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  • By Pacific island Times News Staff

Mental health helpline technology launched for Guam, Pacific islands

Guamanians in crisis are set to benefit from the launch of a new charity’s technology which can reduce the time it takes to select and contact a suitable mental health helpline.

Recent research shows a high prevalence of depression, anxiety and stress among Guam’s population. Guam has also seen a rise in suicides and calls to the crisis hotline since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Live For Tomorrow, a new Pacific charity has launched technology which is set to help news companies and social media platforms more effectively connect users in crisis with mental health support services.

“Today we're launching in Guam, alongside Samoa, Cook Islands, Papua New Guinea and Fiji," said Elliot Taylor, founder of Live For Tomorrow. "Within the coming weeks, we'll also launch in the UK, Ireland and in Canada, the Caribbean and the U.S."

The charity is set to offer the world’s largest database of mental health helplines to those experiencing distress providing a new, more user friendly, online interface embedded on media websites. The interface makes it easier to select the right mental health support service instantly.

Users will also be able to access the database of over 1,600 helplines directly through the charity’s Find A Helpline website in the coming weeks.

Taylor said says the challenges faced in searching for support at a time of crisis can be a barrier to seeking support. “What we know is that people in crisis can struggle to connect with helplines that best fit their needs for a range of reasons," he said.

“These barriers can manifest in a number of ways - including the stigma of reaching out for help. Our aim is to remove the perceptual and logistic barriers and make the first step taken to connect with support as seamless as possible. We’re achieving this through a new web-based widget which can be integrated into a news or social media site around content which may be a catalyst for a user to seek help.”

The charity has also beaten out international competition to become the only Southern Hemisphere entrant accepted into the Headstream Accelerator programme in San Francisco - which is supported by a Melinda Gates founded investment and incubation company, Pivotal Ventures.

Taylor said the financial funding and international recognition from the programme has opened a number of doors - including the inclusion of their technology in the online resources of the Pandemic Crisis Services Response Coalition in the United States, a coalition of leading mental health organisations across the country.

He says although still in beta testing at the time, the chance to be the primary bridge between helplines and the public during the pandemic has meant they are well placed to expand their offering globally.

“Once our service covers the whole English-speaking world, then we will look for support to be able to localize the tool and get it into different languages. Our aim is to have one portal that, wherever you are in the world, and if you're struggling, within a matter of clicks you can talk to someone confidentially about what's going on,” he said.

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