'Very disturbing' Covid pandemic trend emerges in 'year of turmoil'

·Lifestyle Editor
·3-min read

A worrying trend affecting young people has emerged during the coronavirus pandemic.

Mental health struggles have fast become an alarming side effect of the pandemic. Kids Helpline has revealed just how much it is affecting children and young people.

Data from Kids Helpline revealed there had been a huge spike in child abuse and suicide attempts among children and young people across Australia.

Duty of care interventions to protect them were up 99 per cent nationally from December 1, 2020 to May 31, 2021, compared to the same period the year before.

The data revealed over the past six months, 38 per cent of interventions related to suicide attempts while 35 per cent related to child abuse.

A young girl stares out the window.
Young people have been hit particularly hard by the pandemic, Kids Helpline says. Source: Getty

In NSW alone, there was an increase of 40 per cent in duty of care interventions enacted by Kids Helpline, a service of Yourtown, in the six-month period.

"We feared an increase in child vulnerability as a result of the pandemic and ensuing lockdowns, however the current spike in emergency interventions on behalf of children and young people in NSW is very disturbing," Yourtown chief executive officer Tracy Adams said.

"For those children and young people aged between 5 and 25 years of age, 44 per cent of emergency interventions over the past six months in NSW have been in response to child abuse and 35 per cent have been in response to an immediate intent to enact suicide.

“It is very clear that the pandemic is taking a toll on the lives of children and young people."

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Kids Helpline said the organisation was involved in 862 suicide preventions in Australia in the past six months.

"Since the pandemic, Kids Helpline has employed an additional 100 counsellors to assist us in dealing with the increased demand on the Kids Helpline counselling service, arising from Covid-19," Ms Adams said.

Kids Helpline receives one call a minute

In April last year calls to Kids Helpline skyrocketed with children and young people attempting to contact the service every 69 seconds.

"This is an extraordinary moment in time as we face unprecedented demand on our counselling services," Ms Adams said in a statement.

She added the helpline had received a 40 per cent increase in calls compared to the same time the year before.

"2020 has proved to be a year of turmoil for many young people, from bushfires to Covid-19, some of our young people have told us how their family was already struggling due to the bushfires and now their parent/s are desperately trying to find work or access income," she said.

Data from March last year showed people's main concerns related to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Kids Helpline says prevention and early intervention was key to reducing the impact of mental health issues and children and young people are urged to contact them on 1800 551 800.

Readers seeking support and information about suicide prevention can contact Beyond Blue on 1300 22 4636, Lifeline on 13 11 14 or Suicide Call Back Service on 1300 659 467.

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