Bullies add to helpline workloads

Natasha Boddy
Cry for help: Bullies add to helpline workloads. Picture: Kellie Lewis/The Kalgoorlie Miner

Bullying has become a growing problem for WA children in the past year, according to figures that show a rise in young people using helplines.

Kids Helpline had 4427 calls for counselling from WA children last year - about 25 per cent more than the previous year. In the first six months of this year, it had 2312 counselling-type contacts from WA.

The figures reveal a dramatic increase in contacts when bullying was the primary reason for a call between 2011 and last year.

There were fewer calls in 2011 (110) than in 2010 (156) but the figure jumped 75 per cent last year to 193 calls. There were 87 calls in the first six months of this year.

Kids Helpline strategy and research manager John Dalgliesh said young people tended to be reluctant to seek help for bullying and often blamed themselves for the bullying.

"There's a lot of shame and embarrassment in telling someone about their experience," he said.

"Young people find it hard to reach out and seek assistance, which is something we're quite concerned about. Bullying is never the fault of the person being bullied and the most effective way to end bullying is to speak out to a trusted adult about it."

Mr Dalgliesh said mental health issues were a clear trend in children and young people seeking help.

There was a 40 per cent rise in calls about mental health issues last year in WA compared with 2011 and 958 calls about self- injury from young people in WA last year - almost 30 per cent more than the 626 WA calls to Kids Helpline in 2011.

More were calling about anxiety, depression or the onset of mental health symptoms.

Mr Dalgliesh said the statistics showed more young people were seeking help, which was an "encouraging sign".

He believed that as awareness of mental health issues grew, people became more comfortable reaching out for help.

Kids Helpline can be contacted on 1800 551 800 or through its website www.kidshelp.com.au .