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More Young Australians Are Reaching Out For Mental Health Help

There's been a 626 percent increase in contacts to Kids Help Line about mental health.

24/05/2016 11:18 AM AEST | Updated 15/07/2016 12:53 PM AEST
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Mental health concerns are now the primary reason young people call Kids Help Line.

Boys and young men remain reluctant to seek help for personal issues, amid a more than 500 percent increase in approaches to Kids Help Line over mental and emotional health concerns over the past 20 years.

The Kids Help Line 2015 Insights Report shows there has been a 626 percent increase in contacts to KHL about mental health and/or emotional health, including self-injury, since 1996.

The report also shows a 246 percent increase in contacts about suicide over the same period.

But CEO Tracy Adams told The Huffington Post Australia young boys and men are still reluctant to reach out for help.

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"It's telling us young people are engaging in help seeking, which is a very positive thing," she said.

"But it's also outlining a help seeking issue for boys and young men — most of the help seeking continues to be done by girls and young women.

"The current suicide statistics indicate that while more young women attempt suicide, more young men are successful — so I think we can take from that that we do have young men dealing with some of the most challenging mental health and their own well-being issues."

Mental and emotional health concerns are now the primary reason young people reach out to KHL.

The rise in contacts about mental health is attributed to a number of factors, including a growing community awareness and acceptance of mental illness as a major concern for children and young people.

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In 2003 KHL expanded its services from 5-18 to 5-25 year-olds. It also began specialised training for KHL counsellors to recognise mental health issues, had been a contributor to the increase in mental health contacts.

"I don't think we can say the 600 percent increase is purely driven by increased need of young people, I think it's increased awareness and now young people are truly engaging in help seeking which is very positive.

"Primarily if you think about the past 10 years there's been a huge promotion of knowledge around mental health."

Kids Helpline (KHL) has responded to almost 7.5 million contacts nationally in over the past 25 years.

In its first four months of opening KHL received more than 550,000 calls.

Key issues of the day included relationships, child abuse and family violence, along with teen pregnancy.

"Today, we still receive many contacts about these issues, but mental and emotional health concerns are now the number one reason young people reach out to us for counselling," Adams said.

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​More complex issues have also meant KHL counselling session times have more than tripled over 25 years, going from about 10 minutes in 1991 to 36 minutes in 2015, the group said.

Changes in how young people prefer to seek support and information over the past two decades have also seen changes for KHL.

In 2015, KHL had 1,385 unique daily visitors to the its website and 554,988 page views of 'Tips & Info' over the year.

In that time KHL responded to around 100 contacts per week (5,147 over the year) from children and young people with concerns about child abuse, including family and domestic violence.

Of these 66 percent were either experiencing abuse or were at risk of abuse.

KHL was created to give children and young people someone to turn when they need help, particularly around abuse and neglect.

KHL is a service of yourtown (formally BoysTown). It is 72 percent funded by the yourtown Art Union, donations and corporate support. Federal and State Governments fund 28 percent.

If you need help in a crisis, call Kids Helpline on 1800 55 1800, kidshelpline.com.au or call Lifeline on 13 11 14. For further information about depression contact beyondBlue on 1300224636 or talk to your GP, local health professional or someone you trust.

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