Youthline had 'massive' increase in calls for help during COVID-19 lockdown

Support service Youthline had a "massive" surge in calls for help during the COVID-19 lockdown.

CEO Shae Ronald spoke to The AM Show on Tuesday about how many young Kiwis had to deal with fear, anxiety and grief during the pandemic.

"We know that into the recovery period of economic downturn proportionally impacts mental health and wellbeing," she said.

"We had a massive increase, a 50 percent increase in the number of people contacting us for support. And of that, we also had an 85 percent increase in care protection matters. That's where young people aren't safe."

She said they normally work with 12 to 14-year-olds, but had heard from children as young as eight needing their help.

They also saw an increase in violence cases during the lockdown.

"Family violence, sexual violence... We have also noticed since lockdown the risk levels have gone up so we have had a lot of young people contacting us about this but also family members and friends of young people who know they are not safe."

Between April 11-24, Youthline surveyed 975 youth and their families.

"Seventy-two percent said that their mental health had been negatively impacted, and of that young people were more likely to say that," Ronald said.

"We've been saying a lot of young people have been doing it hard and we want to make sure we are there to continue to support them and their families."

Of the respondents, 47 percent of young people named mental health issues, e.g. feeling anxious, depressed and coping poorly, as the main drivers of negative impacts during lockdown.

During the lockdown Youthline also experienced a 50 percent increase in the number of texts received from youth needing support. The most common were about suicide, depression, anxiety, self-harm.

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