Kids Help Phone reaches thousands

World Mental Health Day this Friday

Published on October 7, 2014
Kids Help Phone estimates approximately 19 youth in Newfoundland and Labrador use its phone service each day to deal with mental and emotional health concerns.
— Thinkstock image

When it comes to helping kids find ways to get through emotionally stressful times, Kids Help Phone has noticed an increased demand nationwide.

Even in one of the least populated provinces in Canada, such demand is considerable.

According to its own data, each day approximately 19 youth in Newfoundland and Labrador call its phone service, resulting in almost 7,000 calls annually.

Calls came in from 100 communities in the province in 2013.

Call about anything

“I think that overall we want young people to know they can call and that it’s where they can call about anything,” said Gayle, a counsellor who has worked with Kids Help Phone for 15 years.

An organizational policy prohibits counsellors from disclosing their last name.

Helping the situation when it comes to making youth feel better about whatever might ail them on a mental or emotional health level is the fact more than ever before people are openly discussing the ramifications of such issues.

In Gayle’s view, this encourages people to feel more comfortable about accessing resources to get help.

People talking about mental health

“We’ve seen an increase in the dialogue going on around mental health issues in general. ... There’s not as much stigma that exists anymore.”

This Friday, mental health takes centre stage on an international level via World Mental Health Day.

From 2012 to 2013, Kids Help Phone witnessed a 29 per cent increase in counselling sessions for young people with mental and emotional health concerns and a 22 per cent increase for sessions involving thoughts of suicide.

During that same year-to-year period, use of the online Live Chat service increased 29 per cent.

Demand for telephone counselling increased dramatically — 127 per cent — over a three-year period from 2010 to 2013.

“Their lives are even more complicated than they used to be,” explained Gayle.

 “All those issues of growing up and adolescence, learning about the world, still exist. Now, in more recent years we’ve added all the complexities of the Internet and technology that has made some issues even more complicated. Young people have a lot more information at a much younger age.”

For all of Atlantic Canada, about 60 kids, on average, call Kids Help Line daily. Approximately 45 per cent of those who make use of the service do so multiple times.

In the case of Newfoundland and Labrador, Gayle said she understands the isolation that can frustrate those who may not otherwise have resources in their community to access.

For that reason, she says it is all the more important for kids and teens to consider reaching out to Kids Help Phone.

The organization also maintains a community database listing 200 resources in Newfoundland and Labrador and can connect youth to those services if necessary.