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- Kids Helpline turns 25
Kids Helpline turns 25
Kids Helpline (KHL) is celebrating 25 years of providing counselling and support which has seen more than 7.5 million contacts responded to nationally, and in its ‘2015 Kids Helpline Insights Report’ released today, reveals what’s changed for contacts to KHL over that time.
According to yourtown CEO Tracy Adams, KHL was created to give children and young people someone to turn when they needed help, particularly around abuse and neglect, but while these were still issues today, other concerns now topped this list.
“In the first four months of opening, KHL received more than 550,000 calls. Key issues of the day included relationships, child abuse and family violence, along with teen pregnancy,” Ms Adams said.
“Today, we still receive many contacts about these issues, but mental and emotional health concerns are now the number one reason young people reach out to us for counselling. ”
In 2015, 22% of all counselling contacts to KHL were about these issues followed by family relationships at 19%.”
The Insights Report shows there has been a 626% increase in contacts to KHL about mental health and/or emotional health, including self-injury, and a 246% increase in contacts about suicide since 1996. According to Ms Adams, behind those statistics is an increased social understanding of mental illness.
“The rise in contacts to KHL about mental health is likely due to a number of factors, including a growing community awareness and acceptance of mental illness as a major concern for children and young people,” she said.
“There’s a lot more information out there about mental health. Young people are recognising these issues and are willing to seek help and reach out, an important step towards improving the health of those living with a mental illness.”
Ms Adams said the expansion of the KHL service from 5-18 to 5-25 year olds in 2003 had been a contributor to the increase in mental health contacts. The introduction of specialised training for KHL counsellors to recognise mental health issues and ongoing case management for these and other complex issues had also contributed to the rise.
More complex issues have also meant KHL counselling session times have more than tripled over 25 years, going from around 10 minutes in 1991 to 36 minutes in 2015. Changes in how young people prefer to seek support and information also saw changes for KHL.
“We’re glad to be here to meet this need and are always looking to innovate to ensure young people can get help. This can mean increased training for our counsellors or new technologies,” she said.
“In 2000, KHL was a world leader being the first helpline internationally to offer real-time publically available web counselling for young people.
“Today, we respond to thousands of contacts via chat and email and our website offers a wealth of self-help information for children, teens and their parents. In 2015, we had 1,385 unique visitors to the KHL website every day and 554,988 page views of ‘Tips & Info’ over the year.
“We also talk to classrooms across Australia via video conferencing and our Kids Helpline @ School program, supported by Optus. More than 17,000 primary school students took part in 2015.
“We spearhead research into the key issues affecting children and young people, like youth suicide and the impact of domestic and family violence on children. We partner with universities and others to find new ways to reach out and protect young people, responding to the changing needs of children and young people.
“KHL plays a critical role in the protection of children and young people across Australia. We give them choices, support and someone to listen any time and for any reason. This commitment has never changed.
“Simply put, we care and we listen, and will continue to be there to advocate for and help children and young people when they need us most.”
KHL is a service of yourtown (formally BoysTown). It is 72% funded by the yourtown Art Union, donations and corporate support. Federal and State Governments fund 28%.
KHL gives children and young people choices, support and someone to listen. It is Australia’s only national 24/7 counselling service specifically for children and young people aged 5 to 25 years – free call 1800 55 1800 or www.kidshelpline.com.au.
The Kids Helpline Insights 2015 report is available at www.kidshelpline.com.au/reports. It is supported by the Kids Helpline Insights 2015: National Statistical Overview which provides extensive data about the issues affecting children and young people as well as regional based State and Territory reports.
Tracy Adams, yourtown/Kids Helpline CEO
Tony Fitzgerald, yourtown/Kids Helpline Counselling Centre Manager
John Dalgleish, yourtown Head of Strategy and Research
Former Kids Helpline client
Kids Helpline counsellors
Regan Flor, yourtown (07) 3867 1395 0423 843 786 [email protected]