450 kids calling for help

Helping hand: Lifeline Central West executive director Alex Ferguson says more young people are struggling in modern society. Photo: File
Helping hand: Lifeline Central West executive director Alex Ferguson says more young people are struggling in modern society. Photo: File

Young people across 10 postcodes in central west NSW called a national counselling service a total of 450 times in 2017 for help with mental health-related issues, new data has found.

The report found the young people in the postcode areas of Dubbo, Orange, Nyngan, Narromine, Wellington, Parkes, Mudgee, Forbes, Bathurst and Young, called Helpline for counselling and information, referral and other contacts.

The top concern in 2017 for the postcodes was mental health concerns, followed by suicide-related concerns, and rounding the top three was emotional wellbeing.

Child-parents relationships was fourth in the top ten concerns, followed closely after with self-injury/self-harm concerns.

School-related bullying was next, then friend/peer relationships and then physical abuse.  Loss and grief came in at ninth, followed lastly by self-concept (global)

The 2017 Kids Helpline Insights Report found a total of 339,724 attempts to call the counselling service were made, with 157,656 answered, a rise of 123 per cent.

Of those who received counselling, one in four contacts were about mental health issues.

One in six contacts were about suicide-related issues and one in fourteen contacts were about self-injury concerns. The age of contacts recorded ranged from 5 years to 25.

State and territory information was available for 140,007 contacts, with the majority of calls coming from New South Wales with 45,187, or 32 per cent.

Seven out of 10 contacts from NSW were female and four in seven were aged between 13 to 18 years.

Lifeline Central West executive director Alex Ferguson agreed with the statistics and said there were two key drivers for the results.

“Firstly more young people are struggling in modern society, whether that be peer pressure, social media etcetera,” he said.

“Secondly there is an acceptance that if you’re struggling help is there.. whether that is Kids Helpline or Lifeline…”

Mr Ferguson said a good outcome from the report was that more people are having the mental health debate.

“Which leads to the development of things such as the headspace centres and domestic violence work,” he said.

“We’re starting to look at the context of these serious social issues and that’s when things get fixed.”

Over the past two months the NSW Mental Health Commission has been consulting with individuals and organisations across the state on the creation of a ‘Strategic Framework for Suicide Prevention in NSW’, on behalf of the NSW Government.

Mr Ferguson said praised the fact that these forums were being held.

“It’s a sign that the government are taking mental health seriously,” he said.

“And realising that one size (solution) doesn’t fit all.”

Mr Ferguson encouraged parents to keep an eye on their children and to keep an open dialogue with them.

yourtown/Kids Helpline CEO Tracy Adams said it was very encouraging to see this younger age group reaching out for help because early intervention is key.

“By addressing emotional wellbeing issues early, more serious mental health concerns can be averted before they escalate,” Ms Adams said.

“Young people in the 10-14 age group tell us they experience issues ranging from anxiety, problems sleeping, online addiction, anger issues or mood swings through to self-harm, eating disorders, depression and thoughts of suicide.”