For the first time in its 53-year history, Youthline’s phone and text message Helpline is now available to young people 24 hours a day, seven days a week, thanks to support from ASB – and it’s already saving lives.
Previously, Youthline’s midnight to 8.00am Helpline had been limited to crisis calls only. The nationwide service has now been extended to 24/7, enabling young people aged 12 to 24 to connect with a registered counsellor at any time of the day or night via phone or text message. No problem is too big or too small – it’s free, confidential and provides a space for young people to talk.
Youthline CEO Shae Ronald says expanding the Helpline to a full overnight service has been a long-held dream.
“I am very pleased to see it up and running. It’s a real milestone for Youthline and the young people we support. We knew the need was there, but both the need and severity of calls we’re receiving have been higher than expected. We began offering this extended service in early September without any promotion, and in just two months we’ve received more than 60 calls and 4,680 text messages between midnight and 8.00am. Crucially, there have been nine interventions, where other services such as Police are contacted, which are potential life-saving moments.
“It is critical for us to make sure we are there for any young person who reaches out for support at night. Research shows night-time is typically harder for rangatahi. Rumination (repetitive thinking about negative thoughts) often happens at night and is worse for those who might already be feeling anxious or low.
“The 2023 State of the Generation survey shows our rangatahi are in a mental health crisis, with three in four agreeing mental health is a problem for their generation. Social media remains a key issue for rangatahi, with half of young people surveyed viewing social media as a key issue facing their generation, and more than 57 percent saying it can cause mental health and social problems.
“We know rangatahi can struggle to disengage from social media at night. This can have a significant impact on the amount of sleep they get and the distress they feel, particularly during the night.
“Being young has never been so tough. We’re very grateful to ASB for supporting Youthline to expand our Helpline to include this overnight service. They were on the same page as us from the start in terms of wanting to make this a reality.”
ASB Executive General Manager Lohit Kalburgi agrees expanding to a full overnight service was a shared ambition from the outset of the partnership with Youthline.
“We’re thrilled to see it come to fruition. As well as funding the service, passionate ASB team members have also helped to get it up and running by volunteering as project managers, and we are now supporting Youthline to raise awareness of the Helpline.
“ASB is conscious of the worrying decline in youth mental health and committed to taking action. As a company with deep roots in Aotearoa, we want to accelerate progress for all New Zealanders, and for young people that means supporting their mental wellbeing, as well as the work we’re doing to raise financial literacy in schools. We want all young people to know it’s okay to seek help, and that Youthline is available to offer support for free.
“The launch of the overnight Helpline builds on an ongoing programme of work Youthline and ASB have partnered on, including launching a pilot school wellbeing leadership programme, raising awareness of Youthline as a support service, and collaborating with Kiwi artist BENEE to create a song designed and tested to reduce anxious feelings.”