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Helpline demand exceeds resources


The annual Kids Helpline Impact Report for 2022 has highlighted that demand continues to exceed capacity, with only two in five children and young people able to get through to a counsellor in 2022.

The findings, released earlier this month, outline the prevalence of symptoms of anxiety and depression continuing to rise among young people. The worsening of mental health can be attributed to limited access to mental health services, and the length of time it takes for a young person to get counselling support when they need it most.

Kids Helpline, a service of yourtown, paints a bleak picture in the 2022 Impact Report, with lack of funding to match demand. Mental health interventions dealing with suicide attempts, suicidal ideation and child abuse have also increased compared to before the pandemic.

“As the prevalence of mental health and wellbeing related issues in childhood rises, the significant gap in accessing support deepens. Kids Helpline continues to be a critical safety net for children and young people, however we cannot keep pace with demand,” yourtown CEO Tracy Adams said.  

“Over the last two years we have undertaken almost 180,000 counselling sessions for young people. As an organisation we are doing the heavy lifting because the cost of mental health services for young people puts access out of reach for most – yet we are free and accessible.

“If Government invested a small amount of what they have pulled out of Medicare rebated sessions, and invested into Kids Helpline, we could do more and have greater impacts.”

Ms Adams said the Government’s support to Kids Helpline was “an underspend”, but Kids Helpline was making the most of what it had.

“Often our professional counsellors are the last line of support, providing support 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, when there is limited after-hours mental health support available to children and young people,” she said.

“Funding for Kids Helpline needs to be a priority for Government, the current serious funding shortfall means that many children and young people are simply not getting the timely care they need.”

These most recent figures show 328,424 young people tried to contact Kids Helpline in 2022 whilst 145,000 connected with a counsellor (44 per cent or 2 in 5) were attended to.

Kids Helpline is Australia’s only free and confidential 24/7 phone and online counselling service for young people aged 5 to 25. Since 1991, Kids Helpline’s specialised counsellors have responded to over 8.6 million contacts. Kids Helpline aims to deliver services that best meet the needs and preferences of young people, with digital services the choice they are increasingly comfortable to use.

Kids Helpline is here anytime and for any reason. If young people want to talk to someone, they can call Kids Helpline on 1800 551 800, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week or use WebChat or email services at www.kidshelpline.com.au.

Findings from the Kids Helpline Impact Report 2022 include:

· A child or young person attempts to contact Kids Helpline every 80 seconds
· Every day 56 per cent of contacts from children and young people went unanswered
· Nearly 145,000 answered – 2 in 5 young people
· Of these answered contacts 2 out of 3 counselling sessions are provided outside of regular working hours (33 per cent vs 67 per cent)
· Emotional wellbeing, Mental health, Family relationships and Suicide were the top concerns for young people in 2022
· An increase in the complexity of issues and the need for more intensive, longer sessions has seen a spike in dedicated counselling time required since the pandemic.