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Catholic Charities of Central and Northern Missouri has partnered with Catholic Charities USA and technology provider X2AI to provide easy and immediate access to mental health support through a chatbot named Hope.

"X2AI's unique technology will help individuals build resilience through tough times," Catholic Charities USA President and CEO Sister Donna Markham said in a news release. "Catholic Charities seeks the most innovative solutions available to address the needs in the communities it serves and we are glad our agencies can provide this added benefit to their clients."

Catholic Charities of Central and Northern Missouri is the social services outreach arm of the Catholic Diocese of Jefferson City.

"We are thrilled to be able to bring Hope to everyone who lives in the 38 counties of the Diocese of Jefferson City," said CCCNMO Executive Director Dan Lester. "Access to mental health can be a challenge, especially in rural communities, and we believe that Hope is one tool that can really make a difference for our neighbors in need who may be struggling."

Built by clinical psychologists, the chatbot connects clients through AI-driven text conversations, available in English and Spanish, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. According to X2AI, research studies found that using the chatbot led to significantly reduced symptoms by 28 percent for depression and 18 percent for anxiety.

If warranted, a connection with a Catholic Charities or other licensed therapist can be made. If someone's response suggests they are contemplating suicide or are at immediate risk of domestic violence, they will receive an immediate call from a crisis counselor.

"In the past year at X2AI we provided mental health support to hundreds of thousands of people, and de-escalated thousands of suicidal crisis situations. We are honored to partner with Catholic Charities USA and Catholic Charities of Central and Northern Missouri to make it possible to offer our service free of charge to the many people in need," said Michiel Rauws, CEO and founder of X2AI.

To access the free, confidential Hope service, users can text "Hi" to 1-202-949-7249 or visit facebook.com/HopeCCUSA and use the start code "CCCNMO."

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