First-time mental health phone calls to the Kids Helpline were greatest in the 10-14-years age group, a Kids Helpline report released this week has revealed.
Kids Helpline chief executive Tracy Adams said it was encouraging to see the 123 per cent increase in the young age group reaching out — because early intervention was key.
‘‘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,’’ she said.
‘‘By addressing emotional wellbeing issues early, more serious mental health concerns can be averted.’’
Ms Adams said the reason why kids experienced these issues were varied and complex but could include family breakdowns, illness, worries about bad news, school pressures or bullying.
‘‘While some say they are receiving treatment through a GP, psychiatrist or counsellor, others say they use sleeping tablets, watching TV or YouTube,’’ she said.
Last year, mental health was the No. 1 reason children and young people contacted Kids Helpline, with 17115 of counselling contacts about this issue.
Ms Adams said there was more the community could be doing to improve the mental health of young people.
‘‘A good start is ensuring that the community works together to create early prevention services that are accessible to those who are most at risk,’’ she said.
‘‘With many in the 10-14 age group too young to access community-based services such as headspace, we need to ensure we create access to early intervention services that directly target and support younger children.’’
Primary schools across Australia can access a free counsellor-led program, Kids Helpline @ School, designed to increase resilience and encourage children to seek help.
● For more information about the program, visit www.kidshelpline.com.au/school