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By Paul Gionfriddo, President and CEO of Mental Health America

During the past seven years, the Crisis Text Line (CTL) has been an important tool in helping people experiencing mental health crises.

In recent weeks, CTL reported increases in demand for its services. Mental Health America (MHA) and other organizations have referred people in crisis to CTL for what we have considered to be life-saving services. The staff at CTL are under enormous pressure as they deliver these services. We thank them for doing this work. That in carrying out their duties they were stressed by racism in a toxic work environment is deeply troubling. 

What is more troubling is that there are reports that the board of CTL was aware for two years about this and took no action until Friday. Racism is a mental health issue, and anti-racism is the only answer to this. While CTL leadership has now taken a first step, the integrity of the organization has been undermined by its past actions.

The next steps are important. How much did racism affect the people it served? CTL leadership must work to restore trust in its product and earn confidence in its ability to make permanent and lasting change to its structure.