by Shelley Gillespie
One of the toughest times in a person’s life is during the teenage years. We are partway between childhood and becoming an adult, and our bodies change, our morals and values are forming, and almost everything seems to be a challenge.
The upheaval in our hormones during puberty can make us emotional wrecks, and conflicting actions from others can make choosing a moral stance a nightmare.
One of the resources available to teens in our area is the Kids Help Phone. This resource offers telephone and web counseling for both males and females under the age of 20. It is free, available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and is anonymous, confidential, and non-judgmental.
Anonymous means that you do not have to give your name, or let them know in any way who you are, and confidential means that whatever you tell the counselor on the other end of the call will not be repeated or shared with anyone else, and that you will not be judged.
The website opens to the home page and immediately offers the person doing the search to choose either the teens or the kids home page. The teen home page includes the Resources Around Me option, which connects you to instructions and a search tool to help you find the nearest location for the kind of resource you may need.
Some of the Resources Around Me choices include counseling and mental health; distress services; drugs, alcohol and gambling; family violence shelters; housing help; legal help; lesbian, gay, bi, trans and questioning services (LGBTQ); sexual health; and youth shelters and homelessness.
There are info booth topics on the home page for teens as well which include topics such as bullying; dating; emotional health; family; friendship; lesbian, gay, bi, trans and questioning (LGBTQ); money, jobs and laws; physical health; school; sexting; the internet; and violence and abuse. The home page makes finding the topic that may be troubling a teen quite easy to find.
For younger kids, the info booth list includes bullying; violence and abuse; feelings; the internet; money; my body; school; friends; dating; and ‘being me’. The information on the anonymity, confidentiality, and being non-judgmental is explained in less complex terms. There is even instructions to help kids and teens keep it private if they are accessing the website.
The home page for younger kids also has direct access to a FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) page, to answer some of the more common questions a younger person might have.
Both home pages, whether for younger or older visitors, have five choices at the very top of the page that a person may choose. The five choices are Phone Us, Ask Us Online, Info Booth, Your Space, and Get Involved. It is here that both older and younger visitors may choose the info booth, where each topic listed above lists even more detailed choices.
For example, on the kids home page, if your question is about violence and abuse, the first page you will come to when choosing Info Booth at the top will break down violence and abuse even further, giving the child a choice of gangs, sexual abuse, and abuse in the family.
For teens, the info booth breaks down the violence and abuse heading into sexual abuse, sexual harassment, sexual assault, dating violence, gangs, prejudice, abuse in the family, and online sexual exploitation and abuse.
Each choice, for both age groups, goes into much more detail, giving definitions of whatever topic the visitor chose, in a language suitable for their age and maturity, then leading them into a number of coping skills, reassurances, and other resources to further help them with their issue.
Both younger and older teenagers also have a Your Space choice at the top of their home pages, and this is a section of the site where the visitor can go to learn about many topics and how to cope with them.
The Your Space section has tools, games, slide shows, quizzes and surveys geared to each age group, plus a place to share both good and bad stories about your life with others. The teen site also has comics and workbooks.
All of the resources in the Your Space section are designed to make learning about a topic easy, learning to cope easier, learning the differences between similar topics, and learning more about yourself. Visitors will also learn about the different choices they might make, and what the consequences might be.
The Ask Us Online feature will close at the end of the year to increase the time available for the chat live service. Talking or chatting lets a visitor give feedback to a counselor right away about the questions asked. There is more time to clarify or add more information to get even more out of connecting with a counselor.
Kids Help Phone is a resource that might be very helpful on its own, or certainly would help a troubled youth find the proper assistance for his or her problem.
To access this resource, go to KidsHelpPhone.ca or call 1-800-668-6868.