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The Key Issues

Affecting Kids and Young People

in Australia in 2013

2


Kids Helpline Overview 2013 is a summary and analysis of the

key issues affecting young people in 2013.

It is based on our contact with young people every minute of every day

– every 60 seconds a young person contacts Kids Helpline.

Nobody knows young people like we do.

Contents

Kids Helpline has been operating for 23 years and is Australia’s only 24/7

counselling and support service for young people aged between 5 and 25 years.

1800 55 1800

www.kidshelp.com.au

Kids Helpline is free, private and confidential. Support by qualified counsellors

is provided via phone, web and email. Web counselling is currently available

from 12 pm to 10 pm (AEST) Monday to Friday and 10 am to 10 pm (AEST)

Saturday and Sunday.

We are a service of BoysTown, a not-for-profit organisation with over 50 years’

experience helping disadvantaged young people change their lives through

employment, training, counselling and support services.

Kids Helpline is 70% funded by the community through BoysTown Art Union

ticket sales, as well as donations, corporate support and government grants.

Help support Kids Helpline – www.kidshelp.com.au/donate

Key findings 2

Counselling sessions 4

Top five issues 6

Top ten issues by age and gender 9

Top five key issues by cultural background 15

Ongoing counselling 16

State-by-State 17

Trends 18

Increase in online contacts 21

How children and young people sought help 21

Referral to other support 26

Age, gender and background of children and young people 28

Top referring sources to Kids Helpline 33

Website 34

Kids Helpline @ School 35

Satisfaction with Kids Helpline 36

Data collection and limitations 38

1


Key findings

In 2013, there were 700,649 direct contacts and self-directed

help seeking website enquiries. These comprised:

• 72,416 counselling sessions with children and young people seeking help

• about issues and concerns (direct help-seeking)

• 158,318 support, information, referral, connection and/or engagement

• responses provided by counsellors via our telephone and online services

• 2,877 contacts with adults outside of Kids Helpline’s target age range

• 337,234 webpage views of Hot Topics covering information on issues

• and coping strategies for a variety of problems (self-directed help-seeking)

• 124,044 webpage views of self-submitted stories of young people’s problems

• and their experiences of contacting Kids Helpline (self-directed support

• and help-seeking)

• 5,760 connections with our Search for a Service function, which connects people

• with their local support services (self-directed help-seeking and referral)

• There were almost 390,000 attempts to reach

our counsellors via telephone and online

services (web and email).

• We responded to 60% or just over 233,600 of

these attempts via telephone and online

interactions. Just over 156,000 contacts, or

40%, went unanswered, many of these when

children hung up after a few seconds. We

encourage children and young people to keep

trying to contact us if they are in need.

• Direct contacts and self-directed website

help-seeking activities increased by over

55,000 or 9%.

• Children and young people from every State

and Territory contacted us, generally

reflective of the population in each area.

• One third of all Kids Helpline contacts were

from clients living in regional and remote

areas of Australia.

• There were 1,910 cases where Kids Helpline

contacted other agencies to protect children

and young people. These ‘duty of care’

responses included contacting an emergency

service or child protection agency.

• There was a 30% rise – or an additional

107,505 – in the number of webpage views to

self-help resources on the Kids Helpline

website, including Hot Topics.

• The most accessed Hot Topics were on

bullying for children and cyberbullying for

teens, while issues concerning peers was also

of concern to both age groups.

2

3


Counselling sessions

• Counselling sessions increased by 1.5% with

an additional 1,118 counselling sessions

provided. The demand for ongoing counselling

support for children and young people

continues to increase, as our counsellors help

them deal with severe, complex and often

long-standing issues.

• Counselling sessions with children from

culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD)

backgrounds represented more than a

quarter (26.4%) of all counselling sessions.

These young people also preferred online

counselling.

• There continues to be a significant increase

in online contacts, with help-seeking via the

online mediums (web and email) now

accounting for 42% of all counselling sessions

with Kids Helpline counsellors.

• Females made up the majority, over 80%,

of counselling sessions.

• Counselling sessions with teens (13-18 years)

increased, accounting for over 60% in 2013.

Demand for

counselling

sessions

increased

4

“It makes you feel safe talking to an adult who

talks to other people about their problems.”

Female, 10–14 years of age

5


Top five issues

The top five issues and concerns for children

and young people overall were:

1. Mental health concerns

2. Family relationships

3. Emotional wellbeing

4. Suicide-related concerns

5. Dating and partner relationships

Of particular note:

• Mental health and emotional wellbeing

concerns (including, suicide, self-injury

and grief concerns) – presented by children

and young people as the main concern during

44% of counselling sessions and as one of their

concerns during 54% of all counselling sessions

during the year.

• Family relationships continued to be the

most common concern for children aged

between 5 and 18 years for Kids Helpline in its

23 years of operation. More than one in five

contacts were with children and young people

seeking help about family relationships. In

addition, one in five contacts were with children

and young people seeking help about

relationships with friends, peers, romantic

partners and dating relationships.

• Violence – children and young people sought

help in significant numbers in relation to all

forms of violence. Family violence and child

abuse issues were a concern within more than

6% of counselling sessions.

• Self-esteem, self-image, self-concept or

identity accounted for nearly one in 10

counselling sessions with a young person.

Underlying issues assessed by

counsellors – suicidality, deliberate

self-injury and mental health

Suicidality, deliberate self-injury and mental

health issues are assessed by counsellors

regularly when a young person contacts Kids

Helpline. These are in addition to counsellors

recording the top concerns as expressed by young

people on contact with the service.

In 31,400 or 43% of all counselling sessions

it was recorded that the client was assessed

to be experiencing one of these issues in 2013.

This was in line with 2012 results.

Figure 2

Most Common Issues and Concerns during Counselling Sessions 2013 *

50%

All Concerns

Main Concern

40%

30%

20%

10%

0%

22.4%

Emotional wellbeing

Family relationships

Mental health concerns

18.8%

17.9%

12.6%

Suicide-related concerns

10.5%

Friends/peer relationships

Dating and partner relationships

9.9%

8.9%

Self-image/self-esteem

Child abuse (family violence)

Self-injury/self-harm concerns

6.5%

5.7%

5.1%

Bullying

Study and education issues

4.5%

3.6%

Loss and grief

Physical health concerns

3.1%

1.9%

1.7%

Substance use

Body image

“ I like that you don't have to be in crisis to talk to them.

My counsellor, I can talk about anything at all to him.

Me and my counsellor are a good fit – we get along really

well and I always feel really listened to. In my life I am less

scared of problems because I know I will be able to talk

to him about things. My mental health and coping skills

have greatly increased.”

Female, 19–25 years of age

6

*A complete list of the number and proportion of contacts for all concern categories is presented in Table 7 on page 40.

7


Suicidality

Overall, counsellors assessed clients to have

thoughts of suicide in 9,649 counselling sessions.

This equates to around 25 counselling sessions

each day and accounted for 13% of all Kids

Helpline counselling contacts during the year.

Deliberate self-injury and

self-harming behaviours

Counsellors responded to 15,948 contacts with

young people assessed to have self-injury issues,

accounting for 22% of all counselling sessions in

2013. This included when a young person had

recently engaged in self-harming behaviour or

was struggling to not harm themselves.

Mental health issues

A total of 24,538 or 34% of all counselling

sessions were delivered to clients assessed by

Kids Helpline counsellors as having a mental

health issue in 2013.

These clients may have either disclosed

a previously diagnosed mental health disorder

or illness or the counsellor assessed the presence

of significant mental health symptomology

consistent with one or more mental health

disorders during the contact.

Figure 3

Client identified and counsellor assessed issues

across all Counselling Sessions *

Top 10 Concerns for girls 5-12 years

Figure 4

Top 10 Concerns for females 5-12 years across all Counselling Sessions

Top 10 issues by age

and gender

• Children (5 to 12 years) were proportionally

more likely to contact Kids Helpline about

family relationships, bullying, friend and peer

relationships, child abuse, school authority

issues and physical and/or sexual development.

• Teens (13 to 18 years) accounted for

the greatest number of contacts and were

proportionally more likely to contact Kids Helpline

seeking help about suicide-related concerns,

self-injury concerns, study and educational

issues, body image, sexual orientation, sexual

activity, pregnancy and homelessness.

• Young adults (19 to 25 years) were the

group most likely to seek help about mental

health concerns, emotional well-being, dating

and partner relationships, self-image/

self-esteem concerns, physical health issues,

substance use and legal, financial and

employment issues.

Number of counselling contacts

40,000

30,000

20,000

10,000

0

Deliberate self-injury issues

2013 All KHL 2012 All KHL

15,948

15,887

9,649

9,313

24,538

Suicidal thoughts or intent

24,912

31,400

31,042

Mental health issues

One or more of the above*

Number of counselling contacts

1,600

1,400

1,200

1,000

800

600

400

200

0

1,484

Family relationships

826

Bullying

Friends/peer relationships

759

703

547

Emotional wellbeing

Child abuse

Mental health concerns

390

323 300

191 146

Suicide-related concerns

Self-injury/self harm concerns

Loss and grief

Self-image/self-esteem

8

*It is not uncommon for mental health issues, suicidality and/or deliberate

self-injury issues to be part of the complexity of issues for the same client.

9


“Kids Helpline helps me by pushing me to achieve goals and

work around things in my life, and issues which affect me

more deeply. Working with Kids Helpline has allowed me to

finish school and look toward the future, while I know I still

have a massive long way to go, I don't think I'd be finished

school without the constant support of my Kids Helpline

counsellor - who knows where I'd be!

Kids Helpline helps by giving me a safe place to come and

work things through. I've found a place I can be open and

honest and work through issues judgement free. I feel listened

to and acknowledged - achievements, progress and hard

times are recognised. Thank you Kids Helpline.”

Female, 15-18 years of age

Figure 5

Top 10 Concerns for females 13-18 years across all Counselling Sessions

Figure 6

Top 10 Concerns for females 19-25 years across all Counselling Sessions

Number of counselling contacts

8,000

7,228

6,912

7,000

6,000

5,000

4,000

3,000

2,000

1,000

0

Mental health concerns

Family relationships

Emotional wellbeing

5,889

4,827

3,959

3,597

Suicide-related concerns

Self-injury/self-harm concerns

Friends/peer relationships

Dating and partner relationships

2,959

2,343

2,085

1,637

Child abuse

Self-image/self-esteem

Study and education issues

Number of counselling contacts

6,000

5,292

5,000

4,000

3,000

2,000

1,000

0

Mental health concerns

Emotional wellbeing

2,932

2,352

2,013

1,841

Dating and partner relationships

Suicide-related concerns

Family relationships

Self-injury/self-harm concerns

1,135 944 882 823 720

Self-image/self-esteem

Friends/peer relationships

Physical health issues

Child abuse

10

11


From the counsellor’s desk: dealing with suicide

Every year, Kids Helpline counsellors engage with

many young people across Australia who are

struggling with thoughts of suicide. Discussions

can be with people who have occasional thoughts

of suicide, often as a way to escape their

situation, through to those who are already

enacting a plan to end their life.

The counsellor will help the person to identify and

build on their own strengths and resources to get

the support they need. This could include getting

extra support from a doctor or psychologist,

developing strategies on how to manage difficult

thoughts and feelings, and how to make safe

decisions.

The counsellor will respond in different ways

depending on the situation, but the one thing that

always remains constant is building rapport and

trust and getting the young person help as

quickly as possible.

For the person contacting Kids Helpline with

occasional thoughts or feelings of suicide, the

counsellor will respond with empathy, work

towards building a good trusting relationship

with the young person and help them feel they

have a voice.

Over time, they will work together to understand

the thoughts and feelings the young person

is having and where these are coming from.

For a person who has a more immediate intent

to end their life, the counsellor will take a more

instant approach, working quickly to establish

the best way to get the young person urgent help.

This may require an immediate intervention

where emergency services will be contacted.

The more information a young person gives, the

faster it will be to get them help.

It can be very challenging at times working with

people in such a vulnerable place, but our

counsellors are empathic and highly skilled in

working collaboratively with those who reach out,

ensuring they get the best support possible.

Figure 7

Top 10 Concerns for males 5-12 years across all Counselling Sessions

Figure 8

Top 10 Concerns for males 13-18 years across all Counselling Sessions

Number of counselling contacts

450 424

400

350

300

250

200

150

100

50

0

Family relationships

280

234

150

113

Bullying

Emotional wellbeing

Child abuse

Friends/peer relationships

Mental health concerns

82

64

Suicide-related concerns

Loss and grief

51

33

26

Study and education issues

Self-injury/self harm concerns

Number of counselling contacts

1,400

1,200

1,000

800

600

400

200

0

1,193

Family relationships

1,143

Emotional wellbeing

1,086

Mental health concerns

841

Dating and partner relationships

715

Suicide-related concerns

655

Friends/peer relationships

418

Child abuse

411

340

Bullying

Study and education issues

319

Self-image/self-esteem

12

13


Top five key issues by cultural background

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander

backgrounds

There was a total of 779 counselling sessions

during 2013 with children and young people who

identified as Indigenous.

They were proportionally more likely to seek help

about child abuse, self-image/self-esteem, body

image, loss and grief, homelessness, substance

use, and physical health issues (when compared

with non-Indigenous clients).

Top Five Concerns of Indigenous Youth

1. Family relationships

2. Mental health concerns

3. Emotional wellbeing

4. Suicide-related concerns

5. Child abuse

Culturally and Linguistically Diverse

(CALD) backgrounds

There were 7,581 counselling sessions with

children and young people from culturally and

linguistically diverse (CALD) backgrounds

during 2013.

Children from these backgrounds, not including

Indigenous young people, are proportionally more

likely to seek help about family relationships,

emotional wellbeing, dating and partner

relationships, friends/peer relationships,

child abuse, study and education issues,

self-image/self-esteem, employment issues

and cultural identity concerns when compared

with other clients.

Top Five Concerns of CALD Clients

1. Mental health concerns

2. Family relationships

3. Emotional wellbeing

4. Dating and partner relationships

5. Friends/peer relationships

Figure 9

Top 10 Concerns for males 19-25 years across all Counselling Sessions

Number of counselling contacts

1,000

900

800

700

600

500

400

300

200

100

0

Mental health concerns

922

637 635

Dating and partner relationships

Emotional wellbeing

Self-image/self-esteem

Friends/peer relationships

344 340 339

298

Family relationships

Suicide-related concerns

Employment issues

179 156 139

Drug and alcohol issues

Loss and grief

14

15


Ongoing counselling

Young people receiving ongoing counselling or

intensive support through a case management

model were predominately female (87%) and

aged between 15 and 25 years (81%).

Clients engaging in ongoing or case-managed

support with Kids Helpline were proportionally

more likely than first-time or occasional clients

to be seeking help about mental health concerns,

emotional wellbeing, suicide-related concerns,

self-injury/self-harm concerns, self-image/

self-esteem, sexual assault, employment issues

and physical health issues.

Top concerns of clients

engaging in ongoing counselling,

including those receiving

case-managed support

1. Mental health concerns

2. Emotional wellbeing

3. Suicide-related concerns

4. Family relationships

5. Self-injury/self-harm concerns

6. Dating and partner relationships

7. Friends/peer relationships

8. Self-image/self-esteem

9. Child abuse

10. Physical health issues

Children and young people contact

Kids Helpline from all over Australia

The demand for Kids Helpline from each State

and Territory in Australia was generally reflective

of the actual population of children and young

people living in each area.

Kids Helpline also provides strong support to

children and young people living in regional

and remote areas. They tend to have less

access and choice in support services due to

the geographic dispersal of these services in

non-metropolitan Australia.

During 2013, 33% of all Kids Helpline

responses were from clients living in regional

and remote areas.

Young people from regional areas were more

likely to contact Kids Helpline via the telephone

than via the online mediums, with 35% of

telephone contacts from regional and remote

areas compared with 30% of online contacts

from regional and remote areas.

Figure 10

Figure Number 10 of Responses

Number of Responses

State by State

16,362

Western Australia

1,243

Northern Territory

51,351

Queensland

13,414

South Australia

2,521

Australian

Capital

Territory

83,331

New South

Wales

TOTAL 233,611

59,419

Victoria

5,970

Tasmania

16

17


Case study of a young girl’s

experience with bullying.

Ten year old Mia* contacted Kids Helpline to talk about bullying at school. Mia’s mother

and father are from Sierra Leone and Mia was born in Australia.

She talked of being teased about the colour of her skin and the food she ate at lunchtime.

A boy said her food was disgusting and would make people sick. Other children told her

they did not want to touch her for fear they would become the same colour as her.

The counsellor helped Mia to explore her thoughts and feelings about the bullying. Mia

appeared sad and confused about what was happening. They worked on validating and

normalising Mia’s feelings and thoughts of being upset when teased. Together, they explored

her understanding of bullying and discussed why some children engage in bullying behaviour.

Through goal setting, the counsellor was able to speak with Mia about ways to cope with being

teased at school and who to turn to for support. She was encouraged to let her teachers know

about the bullying and to reconnect with Kids Helpline whenever needed. Mia agreed to phone

Kids Helpline if she experienced further incidents of bullying.

*Name changed for privacy.

Trends

1.Mental health and emotional

wellbeing concerns

Over the past nine years, Kids Helpline has seen

an increasing trend in the number of contacts

from clients seeking help about their own mental

health and emotional wellbeing.

During 2013, mental health and emotional

wellbeing concerns, including suicidality,

self-injury and grief concerns, were presented by

clients as their main concern during 44% of

counselling sessions (31,830 sessions) and as

one of their concerns during 54% of all

counselling sessions during the year (39,295

counselling sessions). This was an increase from

51% the previous year – there were 2,710 more

counselling sessions from young people with

these concerns during 2013 compared with 2012.

18

2. Family relationships

There was a decrease in the number and

proportion of counselling sessions with children

and young people during 2013 seeking help about

family relationships compared with the previous

year. However, after 23 years of operation, family

relationship concerns continued to be the most

common concern for clients aged between 5 and

18 years contacting Kids Helpline.

3. Peer and partner relationships

There was a decrease in the number and

proportion of counselling sessions with children

and young people during 2013 seeking help about

relationships with friends, peers, romantic

partners and dating relationships.

Figure 11

Counselling Sessions – 2013 v 2012 Trends

%

25

20

15

10

5

0

22.4%

22.7%

Family relationships

Mental health concerns

18.8%

21.3%

17.9%

15.5%

Emotional wellbeing

12.6%

12.2%

Suicide-related concerns

10.5%

11.9%

Friends/peer relationships

Dating and partner relationships

9.9%

11.2%

2013

8.9%

8.1%

Self-injury/self-harm concerns

Self-image/self-esteem

Child abuse and family violence

2012

6.5%

7.7%

5.7%

5.2%

5.1%

5.5%

4.5%

4.4%

Bullying

Study and education issues

3.6%

4.4%

3.1%

3.5%

1.9%

2.1%

Loss and grief

Physical health concerns

Substance use (drug and/or alcohol)

1.7%

1.9%

Body image


Increase in online contacts

Kids Helpline has seen an increase in the

number of contacts via the online mediums

of web and email counselling.

• Help-seeking via the online mediums now

accounts for 42% of all counselling sessions

with Kids Helpline counsellors.

• Over the past five years, young people have

increasingly sought help for their issues and

concerns via web counselling and email, with

3,500 more counselling sessions delivered via

these mediums during 2013 than the previous

year and more than double the number of

counselling sessions via these mediums than

during 2009.

The significant increase in online help-seeking

behaviour during 2013 was via web counselling.

How children and young people sought help

“They seem to know how

you’re feeling and how

to make you feel better,

they give you information

and explain why certain

things may be happening.

It also feels good to talk to

someone and get it off

your chest.”

Female, 10–14 years of age

Direct contact

• Children and young people directly contacted

Kids Helpline counsellors in significant numbers

during 2013, with 389,968 attempts to reach

Kids Helpline’s telephone and online services.

Counsellors responded to 60% of all these

contacts. We provided 233,611 telephone and

online interactions.

• 161,195 counsellor responses via telephone and

online services consisted of a diverse range of

interactions with children, young people and

adults who were seeking support, connection,

information, or engaging using creative and

innovative ways to test out help-seeking or to

indirectly seek assistance.

• Children and young people’s rates of

help-seeking remained high in 2013, with

389,968 attempts, or 32,497 average monthly

attempts, to reach a Kids Helpline counsellor via

telephone and online services. Counsellors

responded to 233,611 (60%) of these contacts.

• Approximately 3,700 telephone calls were

answered by counsellors each week, a total of

190,142 during 2013.

• Each week, counsellors engaged in

approximately 840 online interactions. In total,

71,335 online contacts were received and

43,469 (60%) responded to, equating to almost

6,000 additional online responses than was

provided during 2012. A total of 18,678 real

time web contacts and 24,791 email responses

were provided during 2013.

Top concerns by method of contact

It is likely that young people’s preferences for,

and barriers to, seeking help are driven by a

combination of ease of access, privacy, age of the

child and the type of concern.

Direct comparison of help-seeking rates between

communication mediums is not necessarily a

reflection of children and young people’s

preferences. For example, young people’s level of

engagement with web counselling may be

significantly influenced by access.

Unlike access by telephone, web access is only

offered at certain times of the day. Currently

these hours are from 12 pm to 10 pm (AEST)

Monday to Friday and 10 am to 10 pm (AEST)

Saturday and Sunday. This is due to the financial

capacity of Kids Helpline to resource the service.

Counselling

• During 72,416 of the telephone and online

interactions, children and young people were

directly seeking help about their issues and

concerns: 42,128 telephone and 30,288 web

and email counselling sessions. This was a

1.5% increase on the 2012 figure of 71,298.

20

21


Strengthening families

Sixteen year old Evelyn* called Kids Helpline

because she’d heard about the service at school

and thought it could help. She and her mum

argue and yell at each other several times a week.

Evelyn was really upset and stressed because

of the tension at home.

Evelyn and her mum used to get along really well

but now nearly every conversation turned into an

argument. She was thinking about running away.

The counsellor explored the issue with Evelyn

and looked into how the stress at home had been

affecting her. Evelyn said her mum was very

protective and they often argue about Evelyn

wanting more freedom. She said her friends have

more freedom than her and that she feels like

she’s being left out in her friendship group

because she misses out on many social activities.

The counsellor let her know that Kids Helpline

gets lots of calls from children saying their

parents can be too protective. The counsellor

asked Evelyn if she had spoken with her mum

about just how upset she was.

Evelyn said she had not spoken with her mum

about how she was feeling. The counsellor

suggested Evelyn find a time when she and her

mum were both calm and ask to have a chat

with her about their arguments.

The counsellor discussed strategies for managing

stress, including exercise and mindfulness.

Evelyn said she would try these things and would

call the counsellor next week to let him know how

the chat with her mum went.

*Name changed for privacy.

Types of counselling interventions

There has been a consistent rise in the complexity

of issues presented to Kids Helpline over the

years. In reply to this, the service has increasingly

offered more continuity of counselling responses

and a greater volume of intensive and planned

counselling responses to clients.

Young people with severe, complex and

long-standing issues benefit from working with

a service on a regular or ongoing basis (ongoing

Table 1

Type of counselling interventions

Counselling Sessions 2012 Counselling Sessions 2013

Number % Number %

First-time contact with Kids Helpline 20,814 32 21,784 32

Occasional^ contact with Kids Helpline 14,333 22 13,675 20

Ongoing counselling (including those

receiving ‘case-managed support’)

30,548 46 31,736 47

Total 65,695 * 100 67,195 * 100

* These percentages were related to counselling sessions where type of counselling assistance was known.

There were 5,221 counselling sessions in 2013 where type of counselling assistance was not recorded.

counselling). This usually includes speaking

predominantly with one or two key counsellors,

who become familiar with their concerns.

Similarly, case-managed support, a model of care

that offers more intensive support, is also offered

to clients to ensure numerous different needs can

each be considered and planned for. Sometimes,

this means linking the young person with

face-to-face services and developing joint or

wrap-around case management plans.

^ Occasional contact is those individuals who have previously contacted Kids Helpline but who have not been engaged in ongoing counselling.

Contact with Kids Helpline has been intermittent.

The increased number and proportion of contacts from clients receiving ongoing

counselling support in 2013 follows a 10-year upward trend, with this counselling

response now offered at 14 times the rate it was during 2003.

Table 2

Top concerns identified by young people via telephone counselling *

Response

rate

increased

Rank All Concerns N

Children Teens Young Adults

(Rank Order) (Rank Order) (Rank Order)

1 Mental health concerns 9,285 Family relationships Family relationships Mental health concerns

2 Family relationships 7,721 Bullying Mental health concerns Emotional wellbeing

3 Emotional wellbeing 7,096 Emotional wellbeing Emotional wellbeing Dating and partner

relationships

4 Suicide-related concerns 4,998 Friends/peer relationships Suicide-related concerns Family relationships

5 Dating and partner relationships 4,909 Child abuse Dating and partner Suicide-related

relationships

concerns

6 Friends/peer relationships 3,586 Mental health Self-injury/ Friends/peer

concerns self-harm concerns relationships

7 Child abuse 3,040 Loss and grief Friends/peer Self-image/

relationships

self-esteem

8 Self-injury/self-harm concerns 2,993 Suicide-related Child abuse Self-injury/

concerns

self-harm concerns

9 Bullying 2,029 Self-injury/ Bullying Child abuse

self-harm concerns

10 Self-image/self-esteem 1,954 Study and education issues Study and education issues Physical health issues

22

*The numbers for suicidality, deliberate self-injury and mental health issues as top concerns identified by young people are different to those underlying issues

assessed by counsellors when young people contact the service. (Refer Underlying Issues Assessed by Counsellors - Suicidality, Deliberate Self-Injury and

Mental Health on page 6)

23


Navigating peer dynamics

John* had been making frequent contact with Kids Helpline for 18 months.

The 15 year old lived in a rural area and did not feel he had things in

common with his peers.

John did not feel a connection to the other males at school who enjoy sports

or gaming and was finding it harder and harder to cope with his emotions.

He expressed feelings of isolation and loneliness due to disconnection from

his peers.

Through counselling, John identified that not having friends was resulting

in a belief that he was not worthwhile or worthy of being cared about.

He was able to see that this is due to not feeling connected with people

in his community.

The counsellor and John talked about what his interests were, examining his

values and beliefs. They discussed ways to cope with emotions and looked

at practical ways to seek out and engage with people with similar interests.

*Name changed for privacy.

Table 3

Top concerns identified by young people via web counselling*

Rank All Concerns N

Children Teens Young Adults

(Rank Order) (Rank Order) (Rank Order)

1 Mental health concerns 3,411 Family relationships Mental health concerns Mental health concerns

2 Family relationships 2,321 Friends/peer relationships Family relationships Emotional wellbeing

3 Emotional wellbeing 2,310 Bullying Emotional wellbeing Dating and partner

relationships

4 Friends/peer relationships 1,715 Emotional wellbeing Friends/peer relationships Suicide-related concerns

5 Suicide-related concerns 1,705 Suicide-related concerns Suicide-related concerns Family relationships

6 Dating and partner relationships 1,459 Mental health concerns Self-injury/ Self-image/self-esteem

self-harm concerns

7 Self-injury/self-harm concerns 1,455 Child abuse Dating and partner Self-injury/

relationships

self-harm concerns

8 Self-image/self-esteem 1,161 Self-injury/ Self-image/self-esteem Study and education issues

self-harm concerns

9 Study and education issues 837 Self-image/self-esteem Study and education issues Physical health issues

10 Bullying 648 Study and education issues Bullying Friends/peer relationships

*The numbers for suicidality, deliberate self-injury and mental health issues as top concerns identified by young people are different to those underlying issues

assessed by counsellors when young people contact the service. (Refer Underlying Issues Assessed by Counsellors - Suicidality, Deliberate Self-Injury and

Mental Health on page 6)

Table 4

Top concerns identified by young people via email counselling *

Rank All Concerns N

Children Teens Young Adults

(Rank Order) (Rank Order) (Rank Order)

1 Family relationships 3,589 Family relationships Family relationships Mental health concerns

2 Emotional wellbeing 3,532 Emotional wellbeing Mental health concerns Suicide-related concerns

3 Mental health concerns 3,521 Bullying Emotional wellbeing Emotional wellbeing

4 Suicide-related concerns 2,400 Friends/peer relationships Suicide-related concerns Dating and partner

relationships

5 Self-injury/self-harm concerns 1,985 Child abuse Self-injury/ Family relationships

self-harm concerns

6 Friends/peer relationships 1,899 Suicide-related concerns Friends/peer relationships Self-injury/

self-harm concerns

7 Dating and partner relationships 1,252 Self-injury/ Dating and partner Physical health issues

self-harm concerns

relationships

8 Child abuse 1,120 Mental health concerns Self-image/self-esteem Friends/peer relationships

9 Bullying 1,012 Self-image/self-esteem Child abuse Self-image/self-esteem

10 Self-image/self-esteem 1,008 Loss and grief Bullying Loss and grief

*The numbers for suicidality, deliberate self-injury and mental health issues as top concerns identified by young people are different to those underlying issues

assessed by counsellors when young people contact the service. (Refer Underlying Issues Assessed by Counsellors - Suicidality, Deliberate Self-Injury and

Mental Health on page 6)

24

25


“The counsellors are very

friendly and understanding. It

helped just to talk through my

problems with someone

who was very kind-hearted.”

Female, 15–18 years of age

Referral to other support

Across all counselling sessions, counsellors were

able to directly assist 54,728 (76%) young people

contacting the service without referring them on

to another agency. For those 24% of counselling

sessions in which a referral was required:

• Just over 7% (5,152) resulted in the child or

young person being referred to another service

for ongoing support, including crisis responses

and three-way link-ups with both the client and

another agency.

• 13% (9,495) were referred to their doctor,

school/guidance counsellor, mental health

worker or other generic service.

• In 4% (3,037) of sessions, counsellors were

unable to provide a referral because either no

appropriate service was available or the young

person finished the session before a referral

could be discussed. This may have been

because they did not want to engage in the

process, were reluctant to disclose identifying

information or were not ready to seek face-toface

help.

Duty of care – contacting other

agencies to protect young people

Responses required to protect children and young

people, such as contacting an emergency service

or child protection agency, are carried out on

a daily basis by Kids Helpline counsellors and

supervisors. During 2013, there were 1,910

such instances.

26

27


Age, gender and background of children

and young people

Females accounted for the majority of counselling

sessions in 2013, with the proportion of males

contacting Kids Helpline consistent with helpseeking

trends for males in the majority of

counselling services.

Males preferred to use the telephone to seek

counselling, with 72% of their help-seeking

via this medium. Boys and young men account

for 22% of all telephone counselling contacts

and 12% of online counselling contacts.

More than six in 10 counselling sessions or over

60% were with teens aged between 13 and 18

years during 2013.

Compared with the previous year, there was an

increased number of counselling sessions with

teens. Kids Helpline counsellors provided 1,356

additional counselling sessions with this age

group in 2013.

Figure 12

Counselling Contacts – % of distribution

by gender

Figure 13

Counselling Contacts – % of distribution

by age of client

18%

12,723

9.3%

29.2%

Distribution

by gender

Distribution

by age of client

82%

59,693

61.5%

Female contacts

5-12 years

Male contacts

13-18 years

19-25 years

28

29


During 2013, Kids Helpline saw a consistent rate

of contact from Indigenous children and young

people of culturally and linguistically diverse

backgrounds (CALD) compared to 2012.

The background of clients was recorded in only

28,690 (40%) of counselling sessions, therefore

the following figures are likely to be a significant

under-representation of the actual amount

of counselling with culturally diverse clients.

Kids Helpline

knows its

clients

Overall:

• 779 (2.7%) counselling sessions were with

Indigenous children and young people, and

• 7,581 (26.4%) counselling sessions were

with children and young people from

CALD backgrounds.

Young people from CALD backgrounds

demonstrated a preference for online counselling:

the proportion of contacts from this group via

online (33.0%) was substantially higher than

those via the telephone (24.7%).

Figure 15

Cultural Background of Clients

2.7%

26.4%

Figure 14

Counselling Contacts – distribution (Number)

by age of client

p

Distribution by age of client

45,000

40,000

35,000

30,000

25,000

20,000

15,000

10,000

5,000

0

6,066 15,887

5-12 years

40,057 9,313

13-18 years

18,996 31,400

19-25 years

Cultural

background

of clients

70.9%

Indigenous

CALD

Other

*These percentages were related to contacts where age was known.

There were 7,297 contacts during 2013 where age was not recorded.

*Proportions based on counselling sessions in which background

of client was known.

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31


“Provides a sense of direction that maybe

otherwise is lacking in the domestic or school

environment. Advice and emotional support is

issued, and the consistency of being able to

contact the same counsellor implies that if their

initial advice failed to eradicate the issue, a

prevailing solidarity between the counsellor and

yourself instils a faith that they will assist you

in overcoming the issue, no matter how major,

minor, quick or enduring that issue may be.”

Female, 15-18 years of age

Top five referring

sources to Kids

Helpline

Whenever it is possible, Kids Helpline

counsellors ask the child or the young person

“How did you hear about Kids Helpline?”

During 2013, 11% of young people who

contacted the service were able to provide this

information. The top five sources for referrals

to Kids Helpline are presented in the table.

Table 5

Referring sources to Kids Helpline

Name of

No. of

Referral Source contacts

%

Friend/family 7,732 30.4

School 6,577 25.8

Internet 4,628 18.2

Other agency 4,203 16.5

TV 1,105 4.3

Other 1,231 4.8

Total 25,476 100

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33


Website

In 2013, there were:

• 717,138 visits to the Kids Helpline website

• 2,645,463 webpage views. Of these, there

were almost 470,000 views to the

self-directed help-seeking sections of ‘hot

topics’, self-submitted stories and

connections with other support services.

Website Hot Topics

Children, young people and adult carers have

increasingly been accessing self-help resources

from the Kids Helpline website.

These resources are developed by clinical

supervisors and researchers and are designed

to provide information and strategies to assist

the user in responding to common issues and

concerns.

There was a 30% (107,505) rise in the number

of webpage views to self-help resources on the

website in 2013.

There was some similarity in the subject matter

of self-help resources being accessed by children

and teens. Both of these age groups were

concerned about bullying.

For children, the hot topic on bullying was

the number one accessed self-help resource,

whilst for teens cyberbullying was seen as a

critical concern as evidenced by it being the

most viewed Hot Topic.

Issues concerning peers was also of interest

to both children and teens. The hot topics on

peer pressure and fights with friends were

the third and fourth most accessed by children.

In relation to teens, peer pressure was the

second most sought after Hot Topic.

For adults their interest centred on how to

support children and young people in relation to

anxiety, cyberbullying and cross-cultural issues.

Kids Helpline @ School

Kids Helpline @ School is a free program which

allows Australian primary schools to invite

Kids Helpline counsellors into their classrooms

via video link or phone. From June to December

2013, 2,043 primary school students participated

in the program.

@school

Supported by

Table 6

Top Five Hot Topics

Children Teens Adults

Topic

No of Unique

No of Unique

No of Unique

Page Views

Topic

Page Views

Topic

Page Views

1 Bullying 2,851 Cyberbullying 13,475 Anxiety 15,459

2 Staying Safe Online 2,474 Peer Pressure 11,792 Cyberbullying 13,396

3 Peer Pressure 1,845 Leaving Home 11,618 Cross Cultural 9,976

Differences

4 Fights with friends 1,747 Family Relationships 8,988 Being Resilient 8,484

5 Being Different 1,236 Body Image 8,496 Body Image 8,201

Teachers are able to determine what topic they’d

like their class to engage with or sessions can be

tailored around the most common issues children

look up on our website. These include bullying

and cyberbullying, friendship, coping with change

at school and family issues.

Students have the opportunity to talk with a

counsellor during a group discussion about things

impacting their lives. Sessions aim to improve

mental health literacy in primary school aged

children, promote resilience and encourage

help seeking behaviours.

Teachers are involved in booking the session,

assisting the counsellor to develop the session

topic based on the needs of their class and school,

and play an important role in co-facilitating

the session with the Kids Helpline counsellor.

Each session has been developed in line with the

General Capabilities of the Australian Curriculum.

To find out more or book a session visit

www.kidshelp.com.au or contact 07 3867 1284

or email school@kidshelp.com.au

34

35


“Where I would usually feel embarrassed, ashamed or

insecure about my problems and how big or little they were,

or scared of what people may say to my problems,

Kids Helpline was a place I knew I could have complete

confidence in the knowledge that they would be supportive,

and not judge my problems. An outsider's perspective and

ideas of what to do or how to deal with various issues

is also very helpful.”

Female, 10-15 years of age

Satisfaction with Kids Helpline

Kids Helpline strongly believes that the voice of

young people is a critical driver for the continuous

improvement of the service. Consequently, every

year we survey young people regarding their

levels of satisfaction with the service.

In 2013, feedback was received from 778 children

and young people. Respondents were across all

age groups including a mix of males and females

as well as those contacting for the first time and

more than once. Participants were also recruited

across all contact methods including phone, web

and email. This was the most heavily subscribed

client satisfaction survey ever undertaken by

Kids Helpline.

Client satisfaction was gauged by understanding

what overall level of assistance the respondent

experienced, along with questions about

recommending friends to the service and their

intention concerning using the service again

in the future.

Overall client satisfaction with Kids Helpline was

very positive.

In total, 88.4% of callers felt they been assisted

by Kids Helpline (Figure 16), and 93.7% agreed

that they would recommend Kids Helpline to a

friend (Figure 17). In relation to the last

statement, this was an increase from 89% in

2012. On the question as to whether young

people would use Kids Helpline in the future to

seek assistance with a problem, almost 86% said

that they would recontact. (Figure 18).

Figure 16

Figure 17

Figure 18

11.6% Overall, did 88.4%

Kids Helpline

help you?

6.3%

Would you

recommend

Kids Helpline

to a friend?

93.7%

14.1%

Would you

contact a

Kids Helpline

Counsellor

in the future

if needed?

85.9%

Yes

Yes

Yes

36

No

No

No

37


Privacy and

confidentiality

is assured

Data collection and limitations

Coping and not cutting

Kids Helpline counsellors’ record non-identifying

information at the end of every telephone or online

session. There are a maximum of 38 different

fields where data may be logged. However, only

10 are mandatory (including date, time, length

of session, cultural background, frequency of

contact, main concern or problem, problem

severity, referral, and whether the client was

experiencing thoughts of suicide or engaged in

deliberate self-injury).

Ideally, counsellors enter information for each

field. In reality, however, the amount of

information recorded about each session varies

due to the following reasons:

• Privacy and confidentiality – Kids Helpline

offers itself to young people as a private and

confidential service. Frequently clients

choose not to reveal details about themselves,

particularly those that might in their view

lead to identification.

• Sensitivity of information – the nature of

some contacts is such that direct information

gathering is either contraindicated or

proves difficult.

• The length or nature of the call – is such

that even basic data collection is impossible

or irrelevant.

Other issues that need to be considered in

relation to the data within this report include:

• Repeat contacts – children and young people

are free to use the service as often as they need.

Therefore, data reported may include repeat

contacts made by individuals across a period

of time. Indeed, for many young people, the

sense of connectedness Kids Helpline provides

is a key preventative tool for serious issues

such as mental health concerns and self-harm.

• Multiple concerns – many young people’s issues

are multifaceted, spanning across more than

one of the 55 problem types. Counsellors record

the one problem type that was the primary

concern for the client.

• Missing data – Kids Helpline has adopted

a policy of recording data in each field in such

a way as to identify incomplete, unknown or

blank responses. All statistical information

reported is therefore based on those instances

where the information is known.

• Statistical significance – all stated data

comparisons have been assessed against

a 95% confidence interval.

Fifteen year old Anna* contacted Kids Helpline to

talk about conflict with her carers, a relationship

breakdown with her girlfriend and struggling to

keep up at school.

She said she had been cutting her arms and legs

with a razor blade each night before bed. Her

carers did not know she did this because she hid

her cuts with jumpers and long pants.

Anna didn’t know why she cut herself. She only

knew it was helping in the moment, but maybe

not, in the long run.

The counsellor listened, getting to know what

was going on with Anna, letting her know she

had a voice.

The next week, Anna called and asked to speak

with the same counsellor. Anna had cut herself

in the toilets at school after running into her

ex-girlfriend. The counsellor and Anna talked

about what had triggered Anna to cut herself.

Anna linked this to feeling upset about seeing

her ex and failing a maths test.

Through exploring what usually happens before

Anna self-harmed on this and other occasions,

the counsellor helped Anna to gain an insight into

things that triggered her self-harm. Anna’s

counsellor referred her to a website that talked

about the reasons why people self-harm,

and demonstrated alternative ways to cope.

A week later, Anna spoke with the counsellor

again. After looking at the website and thinking

about their previous phone call, she realised

self-harm was a way of expressing sadness,

anger and frustration.

She wanted to look at healthier ways of doing

this. They talked about alternative strategies

Anna could use when she felt like self-harming.

This included: listening to music, writing her

feelings down in a notebook and letting her

carers know when she needed some space.

Eventually, Anna was able to open up to her

carers about the self-harm and get extra support

from a counsellor at her school. Anna said she

no longer self-harmed and thanked the counsellor

for her ongoing support.

*Name changed for privacy.

38

39


Table 7

Number and proportion of contacts by type of concern

2012 2013

Concern Main Concern All Concerns Main Concern All Concerns

Number % Number % Number % Number %

Mental Health and Emotional Wellbeing 28,813 40.4 36,585 51.3 31,830 44.0 39,295 54.3

Mental health concerns 11,407 16.0 16,179 22.7 12,008 16.6 16,217 22.4

Emotional wellbeing 6,409 9.0 11,029 15.5 8,229 11.4 12,938 17.9

Suicide-related concerns 5,863 8.2 8,728 12.2 6,323 8.7 9,103 12.6

Self-injury/self-harm concerns 3,208 4.5 5,810 8.1 3,609 5.0 6,433 8.9

Loss and grief 1,926 2.7 3,152 4.4 1,661 2.3 2,631 3.6

Friends, Peers, Partners and Dating 12,045 16.9 15,918 22.3 11,228 15.5 14,420 19.9

Dating and partner relationships 6,620 9.3 8,506 11.9 6,127 8.5 7,620 10.5

Friends/peer relationships 5,425 7.6 8,017 11.2 5,101 7.0 7,200 9.9

Family Relationships 10,120 14.2 15,214 21.3 9,548 13.2 13,631 18.8

Child-parent relationships 6,269 8.8 10,285 14.4 6,194 8.6 9,517 13.1

Other family relationships 2,321 3.3 3,962 5.6 1,964 2.7 3,085 4.3

Changing family structures 1,294 1.8 1,908 2.7 1,183 1.6 1,641 2.3

Parenting own children 236 0.3 361 0.5 207 0.3 285 0.4

Identity and Self concept 3,469 4.9 6,533 9.2 3,717 5.1 6,692 9.2

Self-image/self-esteem 1,552 2.2 3,694 5.2 1,933 2.7 4,123 5.7

Body image 724 1.0 1,322 1.9 716 1.0 1,260 1.7

Sexual orientation 714 1.0 1,030 1.4 659 0.9 906 1.3

Gender/sex identification 253 0.4 342 0.5 167 0.2 221 0.3

Disability-related concerns 159 0.2 280 0.4 177 0.2 262 0.4

Cultural identity 67 0.1 208 0.3 65 0.1 200 0.3

Violence and Abuse (non-family) 4,258 6.0 6,050 8.5 4,199 5.8 5,817 8.0

Bullying 2,852 4.0 3,956 5.5 2,669 3.7 3,689 5.1

Sexual assault or abuse 774 1.1 1,201 1.7 837 1.2 1,208 1.7

Dating and partner violence 257 0.4 429 0.6 263 0.4 425 0.6

Harassment and assault (non-sexual) 222 0.3 335 0.5 262 0.4 364 0.5

Sexual harassment 153 0.2 210 0.3 168 0.2 230 0.3

Child Abuse and Family Violence 3,677 5.2 5,507 7.7 3,314 4.6 4,730 6.5

Physical abuse 1,638 2.3 2,506 3.5 1,576 2.2 2,270 3.1

Sexual abuse 979 1.4 1,519 2.1 796 1.1 1,164 1.6

Emotional abuse 428 0.6 1,082 1.5 408 0.6 948 1.3

Neglect of child 114 0.2 215 0.3 102 0.1 216 0.3

Exploitation by family member 13 0.0 16 0.0 6 0.0 10 0.0

Exposure to family violence 253 0.4 458 0.6 257 0.4 412 0.6

Living-in-care issues 252 0.4 377 0.5 169 0.2 262 0.4

School, Education and Work 2,738 3.8 4,524 6.3 2,697 3.7 4,383 6.1

Study and education issues 1,855 2.6 3,150 4.4 1,984 2.7 3,291 4.5

Employment issues 639 0.9 1,056 1.5 522 0.7 852 1.2

School authority issues 244 0.3 400 0.6 191 0.3 312 0.4

Physical or Sexual Health and Development 3,355 4.7 4,747 6.7 3,087 4.3 4,205 5.8

Physical health concerns 1,541 2.2 2,517 3.5 1,429 2.0 2,235 3.1

Pregnancy-related concerns 919 1.3 1,129 1.6 755 1.0 896 1.2

Sexual activity 641 0.9 912 1.3 715 1.0 919 1.3

Physical/sexual development 145 0.2 177 0.2 84 0.1 108 0.1

Contraception/Safe sex 109 0.2 149 0.2 104 0.1 131 0.2

Homelessness and Basic Needs Assistance 1,424 2.0 1,988 2.8 1,340 1.9 1,782 2.5

Homelessness 840 1.2 1,113 1.6 796 1.1 986 1.4

Practical/Material assistance 426 0.6 604 0.8 421 0.6 582 0.8

Financial assistance/Concerns 158 0.2 338 0.5 123 0.2 257 0.4

Substance Use, Addictions and Risk Taking 982 1.4 1,709 2.4 998 1.4 1,561 2.2

Substance use (drug and/or alcohol) 826 1.2 1,471 2.1 852 1.2 1,378 1.9

Addictive behaviours (not drugs/alcohol) 99 0.1 156 0.2 125 0.2 156 0.2

Physical risk-taking 43 0.1 68 0.1 17 0.0 32 0.0

Gang/cult involvement 14 0.0 26 0.0 4 0.0 9 0.0

Offending, Abusive or Violent Actions 417 0.6 635 0.9 458 0.6 712 1.0

Illegal/offending behaviour 270 0.4 393 0.6 307 0.4 449 0.6

Abusive or violent actions 99 0.1 191 0.3 103 0.1 212 0.3

Sexual violence/Offending actions 48 0.1 64 0.1 48 0.1 58 0.1

Total 71,298 100.0% 72,416 100.0%

“They are experienced people

that help others with anxiety,

bullying problems, etc,

to get on their feet again.”

Male, 10-14 years of age

40

41


Kids Helpline

1800 55 1800

kidshelp.com.au

The Kids Helpline service operates 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

BoysTown

ABN number 11 102 379 386

BoysTown

BoysTown Business Centre

Suite 5, Cordova Street

Milton QLD 4064

Postal address

GPO Box 2469,Brisbane QLD 4001

Telephone: 07 3368 3399

Fax: 07 3367 1266

Email: boystown@boystown.com.au

Website: www.boystown.com.au

Kids Helpline is a service of BoysTown.

BoysTown (2013). Kids Helpline Overview. Sourced at www.kidshelp.com.au

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