One of the country’s most extensive reports into the issues affecting young Australians has revealed mental health as the number one concern amongst children and young people.
Kids Helpline, Australia’s only 24/7 national counselling and support service for children and young people, released Kids Helpline Overview 2013, a summary of the key issues affecting young people in Australia last year.
The report found Kids Helpline received over 700,000 direct contacts and self-directed help seeking website enquiries mostly from young people aged between 5 and 25 years last year. An increase of 9% from 645,219 in 2012.
The top five issues (in order) amongst children and young people last year were mental health concerns, family relationships, emotional wellbeing, suicide-related concerns and dating and partner relationships.
Kids Helpline CEO Tracy Adams said the demand for ongoing counselling support for children and young people continues to increase, as counsellors help them deal with severe, complex and often long-standing issues.
“Forty three per cent of children and young people who received counselling from the service last year were experiencing suicidality, deliberate self-injury and mental health concerns,” she said.
An estimated 156,000 telephone calls and emails, and web contacts went unanswered in 2013.
“We encourage children and young people to keep trying to contact us if they can’t get through, it is vitally important that they do, counsellors are available every hour of the day,” she said.
"We are providing an increasing number of counselling sessions to children and young people reaching out to the service seeking to deal with very significant issues and we do worry about that," she said.
Ms Adams said Kids Helpline is 70% funded by those who support BoysTown Art Unions and is calling for more support from Government/s and the broader community.
"We believe it is everyone’s responsibility to fund this essential service. We want young people to get the very best service they can and to do this we need an additional $4 million to meet the demand by increasing staff and investing in infrastructure, new programs and technologies,” she said.
Kids Helpline General Manager Wendy Protheroe said the service helps young people with every day issues such a friendship and relationship problems and also life’s extremely serious issues such as suicide, mental health, anxiety, depression and bullying.
“Last year qualified counsellors, on average, dealt with young people regarding suicide concerns 26 times per day and deliberate self-injury 43 times per day,” she said.
Ms Protheroe said there was also a significant increase in both online counselling sessions and in the number of downloads and views of online self-help resources.
“Our qualified counsellors now conduct 42% of all sessions with a young person online, while views and downloads of our self-help Hot Topics on the Kids Helpline website has increased by 30%,” she said.
Ms Protheroe said family relationships continued to be the most common concern for children and young people aged between 5 and 18 years.
“Almost one in five counselling contacts were with children and young people seeking help about family relationships,” she said.
Kids Helpline is Australia’s only 24/7 telephone counselling and support service for young people aged between 5 and 25 - visit www.kidshelp.com.au or call 1800 55 1800.