FOLX Health, an LGBTQIA+ digital health provider, is working with Crisis Text Line to provide 24/7 text-based mental health support to its members, the company announced Tuesday.

Boston-based FOLX Health is a telehealth platform designed for the LGBTQIA+ community that works with insurers and employers. Its services include gender-affirming care, primary care, sexual and reproductive health, family building and mental health care. Crisis Text Line is a nonprofit that offers 24/7 text-based mental health support. Its services are in English and Spanish and are free and confidential. Since it launched in 2013, Crisis Text Line has had more than 9 million crisis conversations and has trained more than 65,000 volunteers.

Through the partnership, FOLX members can gain access to crisis counselors through Crisis Text Line in addition to their support from the FOLX Health care team. These members can text FOLX to 741741, and will then be connected to a volunteer crisis counselor. In the future, this partnership may be expanded so that Crisis Text Line counselors can also refer people to FOLX if they need the company’s care, said John Moore, FOLX Health’s VP of engineering.

The partnership was initiated by Moore, who is a volunteer counselor at Crisis Text Line. As a volunteer, he said he witnessed the unique challenges the LGBTQIA+ community faces. In fact, more than 50% of those who reach out to Crisis Text Line identify as LGBTQIA+.

“It could be anything from they’re getting bullied at school because they’re transgender or gay … or they’re getting beat by their parents in some cases,” Moore said. “It’s across this giant spectrum and it happens every day all day. You’ll see it on just about any shift.”

Moore added that there are several benefits to communicating via text. 

“I enjoy the texting aspect of it as opposed to a phone line,” Moore stated. “Because I think it gives the counselors a little more time to collect themselves before responding and having a meaningful response. Plus, texting these days is just such a popular medium for communication. And that makes everyone more comfortable in my opinion.”

According to Mental Health America, more than 39% of people who identify as LGBTQ+ report having a mental illness. FOLX Health recently collected data on its members over a six-month period, which revealed that 59% of members who had previously experienced suicidal ideation before coming to FOLX no longer reported such thoughts during follow-up assessments, according to a news release.

“At FOLX Health, we recognize the disproportionate challenges our members face, with mental health issues occurring at rates 4-5 times higher than the general population, and yet, we’ve found that our affirming and expert care focused on the needs of the queer community has led to transformative outcomes,” said Liana Douillet Guzmán, CEO of FOLX Health, in a statement. “In a healthcare landscape ill-equipped to meet our needs, FOLX is committed to forging a comprehensive healthcare haven accessible to all. 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.”

Another company that serves the LGBTQIA+ population is Included Health. It offers virtual and in-person urgent care, primary care, behavioral health and specialty care.

Photo: mikdam, Getty Images