0800 What’s Up Hotline

Ban Al Gailani, team leader at 0800 What’s Up supported by Barnados, explained how the hotline is supporting young people.

What is 0800 Whatsup?

0800 What’s Up is the only helpline and online chat service in Aotearoa for tamariki and rangatahi aged five to 19 years old. It’s free, confidential, and available seven days a week, from 11am to 11pm. 0800 What’s Up helpline seeks to nurture emotional wellbeing in children and young people, aiding them in developing resilience and effectively managing life’s challenges. We endeavour to diminish feelings of isolation and anxiety while normalising their concerns. This contributes to enhancing young individuals’ mental health and self-worth, fostering positive outcomes in both their personal and academic lives. Young people can talk to the same counsellor if they wish, allowing them to build a trusted relationship over time and set goals and tasks aimed at progression and achievement.

Why is a service like this so important?

0800 What’s Up can be a useful early intervention tool, before issues get too big. We help young people build strategies early on, so they become skills for them to use throughout life.

We believe that children and young people are experts in their own life:

  • When they reach out, we listen to them and normalise their feelings.
  • We then move through their challenges to find out what works best for them.
  • We focus on helping build resilience, empowering them to solve their own problems and providing tools and strategies to overcome these challenges.

The impact of COVID-19 on health, education, and employment uncertainty, as well as the rising costs of living, housing affordability, Cyclone Gabrielle and other weather events, and other global factors at play means that the world our children and young people are growing up in is full of distressing and difficult challenges.

What can educators do to support young people?

  • Active listening: Not filling the spaces; be comfortable with silences.
    See it through their eyes: reflect back what you’ve heard. This gives them a chance to correct you if they need to. They are the experts in their own lives.
  • Empowerment: Resist trying to fix or solve the problem. Ask first how they would like to be supported by you or what they need. And then discuss potential consequences of their decisions.
  • Be present: Remain curious about what’s happening in their world- friends, interests, dreams. Make time for you all to enjoy being together – this sends the message that you care.
  • Encourage them to reach out and speak to someone when things get tough. It’s hard dealing with things alone. It could be a friend, trusted adult, teacher, helpline, GP, or family member.
  • Notice strength: young people are constantly putting themselves down so it can be useful to help them see their strengths and share those with them. This could look like noticing what the young person did to get out of a certain situation or how they managed their feelings.

When and how should educators refer young people to other sources of help?

We know that young people don’t always have someone to talk to, so What’s Up is here when a young person wants to chat. Every school-aged child should know it’s always okay to reach out for help. The first step is always the hardest. Educators can support young people by providing a safe space for them to talk to a counsellor online or over the phone. They could support the young person while they reach out to one of our counsellors.

For more information, please contact: 0800 942 8787 or visit https://whatsup.co.nz

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