Cope Notes: Improving Mental Health One Text Message at a Time

How one suicide survivor is challenging the stigma of mental health amid the COVID-19 pandemic

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Photo courtesy: Stephanie Hunt
Photo courtesy: Stephanie Hunt

Trigger warning: This article discusses suicide

Demand and interest in telehealth and digital mental health services are on the rise as the COVID-19 pandemic wears on, but what if you could think healthier thoughts while combatting anxiety and depression by receiving a single text message?

Recent data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggests that national suicide rates are expected to increase. However, without real-time data and sufficient suicide-prevention strategies implemented in the U.S., mental health is continuing to worsen among young adults with 75% reporting anxiety, depression and suicidal thoughts since the onset of the pandemic.

One U.S.-based company is stopping the stigma around receiving mental health assistance dead in its tracks—quite literally. 

Suicide attempt survivor and rock musician Johnny Crowder knows a thing or two about the importance of prioritizing mental health. But when he couldn’t find the right resources to help him cope with his own mental health conditions, which range from bipolar disorder to schizophrenia, he decided to invent one.

Suicide attempt survivor & rock musician Johnny Crowder
Photo by: Aaron Berkshire

Cope Notes is a digital subscription service, which utilizes daily text messages to improve declining mental health states among the most vulnerable of society, from those struggling with mild anxiety or depression to at-risk suicidal individuals.

“Every text is written by peers with firsthand experience overcoming trauma, illness, abuse, or loss. Then, they’re reviewed by a panel of mental health professionals before being delivered at random times to interrupt negative thought patterns,” says Cope Notes founder and CEO Johnny Crowder. “Over time, these simple texts train your brain to think healthier thoughts.”

Cope Notes offers a full year of daily peer support via text message for less than the average price of a single therapy session. Its uniquely holistic approach to wellness includes empathetic messages of support, brain exercises, psychology facts, tips, and journaling prompts. Below are just a few sample text messages provided exclusively from Cope Notes that subscribers can receive on a daily, regular basis:

“Healthcare systems are trained to respond to crises rather than prevent them, which is so backwards,” says Crowder. “Cope Notes is a preventative and interventional measure. We want to get there before the crisis, not after.”

Johnny crowder

Launched in 2018, Cope Notes’ strategy is rooted in the ideology that health providers are often underfunded, understaffed, and unable to meet the rising need for quality mental health care, therefore causing concerns about cost and accessibility, forcing individuals to suffer alone or in silence. 

Right now, the projected global cost of mental illness in the United States is estimated to be approximately $16 trillion. With nearly 46% of Americans facing some form of mental illness in their lifetime, Cope Notes aims to lower that percentage, while changing the narrative surrounding mental health for people living with or without a diagnosis. 

“The idea that only certain types of people need mental health support is part of the problem,” says Crowder. “That exact mentality is what led to a mental health epidemic in the first place. Mental health is an ‘everybody, all the time’ thing. We want to be a part of the solution.”

Cope Notes has already exchanged more than half a million text messages with users in 93 countries around the world. Their recent partnerships with governments, schools, and other organizations has allowed them to impact more than 16,000 lives worldwide.

For those interested in improving their mental health, or for anyone wanting to invest in the well-being of a loved one through a gift subscription, visit and experience the next generation of mental health support.

To listen to Johnny Crowder’s TEDx Talk about how his experiences with childhood trauma, abuse, and mental illness fostered his passion for advocacy, click here.

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