Kids prefer speaking on the phone when it comes to counselling

Peter Terlato 25 May 2016

Teen phone

But they're getting all their tips and info online.

The overwhelming majority of children and young people contacting the Kids Helpline for support are still making phone calls, despite their infatuation with surfing the web.

While there's been an increase in the use of website content, the Kids Helpline Insights Report 2015 revealed young people preferred to contact the counselling service by phone (81%), followed by web (11%) and email (8%) services.

This is interesting because 99% of Aussie teens aged 15-17 are internet users and spent an average of 18 hours per week online, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics. Recent research by amaysim also suggests kids are increasingly turning to other communications options.

The number of unique visitors to the Kids Helpline website increased by 35% to more than 720,000 between 2013 and 2015.

Page views for the site's "Tips & Info" section, which covers topics like dating, family, mental health and sexuality, rose a whopping 65% to more than 550,000.

Kids are seemingly less interested in reading about or sharing their stories online, as data revealed a 23% drop in page views to the website's "Your Stories" resource.

Of those who provided details, the majority (55%) of contacts were aged between 13-18 years and around 71% were female.

Mental health was the most common concern of counselling contacts in 2015. Half of the contacts who received counselling for this issue requested support or ways in which to manage an established disorder. Almost two fifths (38%) presented with symptoms of an undiagnosed mental health condition.

Those who have been treated for a mental illness can often have difficulty obtaining general insurance (particularly income protection and travel insurance). Our in-depth guide looks at the types of cover available, what other assistance is out there in the community and what’s being done to bring mental health up to speed with the rest of the healthcare system.

Widening the scope, there have been significant changes in the most common concerns over the last 20 years. Contacts relating to mental and/or emotional health, including self-injury, rose a staggering 626% between the five year period of 1996-2000 and the corresponding period of 2011-2015.

Suicide-related contacts rose by 246% between 1996-2000 and 2011-2015, while the number of contacts for contraception/safe sex (-89%) and pregnancy (-81%) concerns have reduced.

While it may seem logical to conclude that there has been an explosion in mental health and suicide concerns over the last two decades, the report offers suggests there are determining factors that have contributed to these results.

Over the last 20 years, and particularly over the last 10 years, there has been growing awareness and increasing acceptance of mental health issues in the community. This social and cultural change is likely to have increased children and young people’s recognition of these issues and their willingness to seek help.

The report also revealed from where kids and teens across Australia contacted the Kids Helpline. In the five year period from 2011-2015, 72% of contacts came from major cities and 28% from regional and remote communities.

In a state-by-state breakdown, NSW accounted for one-third of all Australian contacts, while Victoria followed with 27% of the total contacts between 2011-2015. The lowest number of contacts came from the ACT (2%), Tasmania (2%) and the Northern Territory (1%).

For more information or to contact the Kids Helpline, you can visit its  website or speak to a counsellor on 1800 55 1800.

Picture: Shutterstock

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