SOS Copper Coast

Suicide Prevention Network

Text-based counselling to save lives

Excerpts from The Stock Journal by Sally Cripps

Aussie Helpers has launched a mental health texting service it expects will be a lifesaver in rural Australia.

The brainchild of Zimbabwean expat Dervla Loughnane, the Virtual Psychologist business is connecting rural people with mental health professionals in a way that offers anonymous convenience and an instant response.

Australia’s largest rural charity, Aussie Helpers, has been partnering with Ms Loughnane’s start-up business for the past 17 months, thanks to funding from Lions International to trial and fine tune the innovative counselling service given the tag line “Let your fingers do the talking”.

In that time more than 1000 hours of texting have taken place between people of all ages and professions throughout rural Australia and professionally-trained mental health clinicians, all with a minimum of five years’ service.

Testimonials from users said testing was less confronting than speaking with someone face to face, that it could be done from the privacy of the shed without family knowing, and that it overcame embarrassment, among other virtues.

Wives who were worried about husbands had questions answered, as did children either watching parents fighting or feeling suicidal themselves.

No app is needed to access the Virtual Psychologist service, and there is no joining or Subscriber fee.

The text number is 0488 807 266 or visit