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NZ’s Only Child And Teen Phone Counselling Service Launches Campaign Following 31% Increase In Chats Over The Last Year

Barnardos 0800 What’s Up counselling service has launched a nationwide two-month campaign with partners MediaWorks Foundation and OfficeMax to help reach children who need support, following a large 31% increase in online chats from children and teenagers.

The helpline is New Zealand’s only children and teen counselling service offering free calls and online chats, every day of the week without any appointments necessary. In the last year, phone calls to 0800 What’s Up has increased by 31 percent and continues to rise every day.

Announcements will be running across multiple radio stations and billboards around the country right up until Mental Health Awareness Week which starts 27 September, and OfficeMax is sharing toolkits with schools to help spread the word that help is available.

“With many mental health services for children at capacity, creating long waiting times, it’s important for children and young people to know that confidential help from a trained counsellor is available right now”, says Jo Harrison, Barnardos General Manager Child and Family Services.

“Our counsellors speak to children as young as five right through to nineteen who will call regularly about issues ranging from difficulties managing friendships, bullying, living in abusive and violent situations and experience of suicidality and self-harm,” says Harrison.

“Many of the calls happen on Sunday nights or in the evenings when tamariki need someone to talk to right then and there,” says Harrison. “Having immediate, accessible, free services is crucial to helping to improve New Zealand’s poor mental health statistics”.

The MediaWorks Foundation has donated over a million dollars’ worth of campaign support to spread the word about the free service that is used by New Zealand’s tamariki and rangatahi.

MediaWorks CEO Cam Wallace says the MediaWorks Foundation is proud to support Barnardos’ efforts to promote its national children’s helpline.

“It’s fantastic to work with Barnardos to promote the 0800 What’s Up line using our radio, outdoor and digital channels in order to help our children and young people in New Zealand get the support they need so they can thrive.”

Amongst the world’s wealthiest 38 countries, New Zealand currently ranks at the bottom for child and youth mental wellbeing and second to last for youth suicide.

Barnardos partner OfficeMax is leveraging its network of education leaders to get the message into schools by creating toolkits and posters nation-wide. “If it contributes to one more young person reaching out for help, then it’s worth it,” says Managing Director, Kevin Obern.

Perry Rush, President of the New Zealand Principals’ Federation says, “while our teachers often play an emotional support role for pupils, their expertise is not counselling. Services like 0800 What’s Up are absolutely essential for connecting our young people to trained counsellors who can rapidly provide the necessary support”.

“We’ve seen the issues that some children are calling about and we’ll encourage our network of primary and secondary school leaders to use the posters and digital assets however they can,” says Perry.

© Scoop Media

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