News : Kids Helpline Gets 460,000 Phone Calls a Year
Dec 23, 2013 -- Lonely and unhappy kids are flooding a counselling service with 460,000 phone calls a year.
Kids Helpline yesterday revealed it had been unable to respond to 100,000 of the calls during 2012.
Kids Helpline general manager Wendy Protheroe said its 130 psychologists and counsellors were dealing with 25 cases of attempted or threatened suicide from children each day.
Some kids called just to have a chat - because no other adults would listen.
"The most frequently raised issue is mental health concerns, and not far behind that is family relationships,'' Ms Protheroe said yesterday. They want to know how to get on with their family and how to deal with conflict. They're really reaching out to have someone to talk to''.
Ms Protheroe said a 6-year-old boy with divorced parents recently phoned to talk about his problems living between two households. "He said, 'Thank you for listening to me','' she said.
"He wants his mum and dad to listen to him and talk about what it's like for him.''
Ms Protheroe said some children called for help in coping with parents suffering a mental illness.
But three young Aboriginal teenagers had called from Western Australia after they caught their first fish. "They just wanted to tell someone how excited they were,'' she said.
A new survey shows that one in three Australian kids avoid activities they enjoy because they are worried other children will tease them. And one in five kids deliberately sit on the sidelines at sport to avoid being laughed at, the Nickelodeon survey shows.
The Positivity Institute founder, Dr Suzy Green, yesterday urged parents to let kids "be themselves''.
"Boys who love ballet and girls who would like to try their hand at football are putting their dreams aside and aren't reaching their full potential due to fear of how others may perceive them,'' she said.
Nickelodeon is using its SpongeBob SquarePants cartoon character to lead a "Dare to be Square'' campaign to encourage kids to "be themselves''.
Guy Sebastian has penned a song, Dare to be Square, with proceeds to be donated to Kids Helpline if the song is downloaded from iTunes until December 31.
Ms Protheroe called on Australians to pay more attention to children. It takes more than just a mum and dad to raise a child,'' she said. It takes a community.
"When you walk past a child, how often do you smile and say 'Hello'. There are a lot of kids out there who feel quite lost.''
• Kids Helpline 1800 55 1800
Posted by Veronica Silva Cusi, news correspondent
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About Kids Helpline:
Kids Helpline is a free, private and confidential, telephone and online counselling service specifically for young people aged between 5 and 25 in Australia. Counsellors respond to more than 6,000 calls each week about issues ranging from relationship breakdown and bullying to sexual abuse, homelessness, suicidal thoughts, and drug and alcohol usage. The service receives more than one millions calls per year.
Published: Tuesday, December 24, 2013