SEEKING HELP: Last year, mental health was the number one reason children and young people contacted Kids Helpline.
SEEKING HELP: Last year, mental health was the number one reason children and young people contacted Kids Helpline. Contributed

Calls more than double to Kids helpline

THE number of children aged between 10-14 contacting Kids Helpline has more than doubled, according to a new report.

The 2017 Kids Helpline Insights Report has revealed first time mental health contacts to the national counselling service was greatest in the 10-14 age group, increasing by 123 per cent (1250 contacts) from 2011-17, twice that of the 19-25 age group. Some of the top reasons children and young people contacted Kids Helpline for counselling last year were family relationships (18 per cent), emotional well-being (17 per cent), suicide-related (16 per cent) and dating and partner relationships (10 per cent).

Kids Helpline CEO Tracy Adams said it was encouraging to see this younger age group reaching out for help because early intervention was key.

"By addressing emotional well-being issues early, more serious mental health concerns can be averted before they escalate,” Ms Adams said.

"Young people in the 10-14 age group tell us they experience issues ranging from anxiety, problems sleeping, online addiction, anger issues or mood swings through to self-harm, eating disorders, depression and thoughts of suicide.

"The reasons why they are experiencing these issues are varied and complex, but can include family breakdowns or illness, worries about bad news, school pressures or bullying.

"While some say they are receiving treatment though a GP, psychiatrist or counsellor, others say they use sleeping tablets, watching TV or YouTube, and turning to friends and family for help, and of course Kids Helpline.”

Last year, mental health was the number one reason children and young people contacted Kids Helpline. Half (54 per cent) of these were seeking support or strategies to manage an established disorder.

Ms Adams said the complexity of issues reported to Kids Helpline over the past 20 years had grown substantially.

She also said there was more the community could be doing to strengthen the mental health of young people in Australia.

"While not just one solution is needed to address this multi-faceted issue, a good start is ensuring that the community works together to create early prevention services that are accessible to those who are most at risk,” she said.

"With many in the 10-14 age group too young to access community-based services such as headspace, we need to ensure we create access to early intervention services that directly target and support younger children who may be experiencing adverse emotional well-being at this critical age of development.

Primary schools across Australia can access the free Kids Helpline @ School program, Optus Digital Thumbprint with Kids Helpline and Wellbeing program supported by Bupa.

For more information about the schools program go to www.kidshelpline.com.au/ school. Contact Kids Helpline on freecall 1800551800 or www.kidshelpline.com.au.


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