Text for Humanity aims to connect people from around the world with messages of encouragement.

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As the practice of social distancing to prevent the spread of COVID-19 continues, more and more people are suffering from anxiety and depression, according to the American Psychological Association. To help counter social isolation, a new service called Text For Humanity has been launched to connect people around the world through positive and encouraging text messages. Messages are vetted before they're sent out by the companies that partnered to create this initiative: Mental Health America, a nonprofit helping those who struggle with mental illness, and Sinch, a telecommunications company.

Ethnic woman standing near a window drinking from a mug and looking at a cell phone
Credit: Westend61/Getty Images

To Send and Receive Positive Texts:

Anyone with a cell phone, even the most basic models, can use Text For Humanity. To sign up, you first text the word JOIN to (+1) 833 421-4726. You'll then receive the terms and conditions, which you should read in its entirety. It's important to know that you'll need to provide the service your name, phone number, and location, which is collected by Sinch. We checked and verified the company doesn't sell the information to third parties and doesn't share your phone number with the person receiving your message.

After reading that information, text the word GO, and you'll then disclose your first name and the country in which you live. (Sinch gives this information to whoever gets your message). Then, you write a short note to "put a smile on someone's face" that will go to another user. Once you send your first text, you'll soon receive a positive message from someone else. I tried the service out for myself, and the first text I sent was, "Happy Monday! You got this!" Five minutes later, I received a note from Hannah in England that read, "Hi, stranger. Every person should feel proud of their accomplishments, even if that's just getting out of bed today."

After your first entry, you can continue sending messages however often you'd like, and will then receive one for each text you send.  If you ever decide that the service isn't for you, text STOP to opt-out of all communications. The program deletes your information within a week.

According to Text For Humanity's website, since January 16, people have sent more than 81,600 uplifting messages and counting.

To Receive Messages Only:

If you just want to receive a positive message (with no obligation to send one out yourself), sign up to receive text messages from Volunteers of America. The organization works with thousands of seniors, veterans, homeless individuals, and at-risk youth, so social distancing precautions has made it harder for volunteers to help those they'd normally see face-to-face. In an effort to continue spreading positivity, Volunteers of America began sending daily text messages with quotes, prayers, and encouraging messages.

Because so many people are experiencing loneliness in isolation, the organization has opened up the messaging service to anyone wishing to receive a daily message. To sign up, text the phrase VOAHOPE TO 51555.

The work these projects are doing proves it takes a few kind words to encourage someone, even if they're a perfect stranger.

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