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Christmas Calls To Youthline Up 70%

Christmas Calls To Youthline Up 70% Compared To Last Year

Rise suggests “a significant level of disconnect and distress in our society”

This Christmas has seen an increase of nearly 70 percent in telephone calls to New Zealand’s leading young people’s helpline, as compared to the same period last year.

Youthline received a total of 1,437 landline or cellular phone calls during the two weeks up to 29th December 2009. The comparable figure for 2008 was 858.

During the same two weeks this year, Youthline also received 6,352 SMS text messages from young people, an increase of more than 50 percent on last year’s figure of 4,102.

A survey of calls received on Christmas Day 2009 showed prevailing concerns to include self harm, eating disorders, relationships (particularly with family), friendships, loneliness and the loss of friends, through death or otherwise.

“It’s often hard for young people to overcome the embarrassment and perceived stigma involved in contacting a helpline. It suggests a significant level of disconnect and distress in our society, when such large numbers of them nevertheless feel the need to get in touch,” says Youthline’s CEO, Stephen Bell.

“At the same time, it’s encouraging that so many have been prepared to reach out for help rather than trying to soldier on unaided. Once they’ve made contact with Youthline, we can typically assist them in dealing with immediate issues and link them up with services that can help change things for them in 2010.

“A Youthline survey of 600 young people in October 2009 identified embarrassment as the leading cause preventing young people from seeking help. There is always a danger that, if people need help and don’t seek it, they will continue to withdraw from those around them putting themselves more at risk,” he says.

Stephen Bell adds that, although this year’s total of Christmastime telephone calls and text messages has risen significantly compared to last year, a large volume of calls is to be expected at this season.

“It can be a difficult time of year for young people, with additional expectations placed on them by anxieties over the looming new educational year, including, for many, leaving home for the first time, with the transition to university or training institutes.

“Others will be starting work or may be commencing a long, hard and dispiriting search for employment. In any of these situations, it’s easy to be overcome with worry and self-doubt.

“If, amidst the Christmas celebrations, you aren’t having a particularly good time but believe everyone else around you to be enjoying themselves, that’s quite likely to add to your angst and unhappiness,” he says.

Founded in 1970, Youthline provides a nationwide network of services, aimed at helping young people reach their full potential. Along with its flagship helpline service, the not-for-profit organisation provides a wide range of counselling options, youth worker services, seminars, social enterprise activities and other youth leadership programmes, which are used by many thousands across New Zealand.

Options for contacting Youthline’s helpline include dialling 0800 37 66 33, free texting 234 or emailing talk@youthline.co.nz. The helpline will be in operation 24/7 over the New Year and right through 2010 and is open to callers from everywhere in New Zealand.

ENDS

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