6000 texts flood in from troubled youth

19:50, Sep 30 2013
Youthline Southland
PLENTY OF WORK: Youthline Southland funding administrator Sarah Hanson and Youthline Southland youth development worker Gemma Ball want to get more volunteers for the youth helpline.

A Southland youth support service has answered 6000 texts from troubled youths in less than a year.

Text counselling is the most used medium of support for Youthline Southland, which provides helpline services to young people through its national telephone and text network.

Youthline Southland youth development worker Gemma Ball said the Southland service had answered 770 calls and 6000 texts since December.

Some youths who used the service had problems with relationships, family, had been bullied or were suicidal, she said.

When a text or call is made by someone who is suicidal, the person is referred within Youthline to a social worker. The worker aims to de-escalate the situation and a risk assessment is then done.

If consent is given, emergency services will be notified.


While Youthline is a national service, it is assumed calls and texts are answered by a local Youthline worker provided someone is available.

To continue providing local help, the organisation is calling for more volunteers to work on its Southland-based youth helpline.

Volunteers are trained in personal development, counselling skills and how to deal with specific situations that may arise from calls and texts.

Five people have so far put their hands up for the volunteer programme starting this weekend, but the organisation is hoping to fill 18 volunteer positions.

"The training will cover a personal development component and then move on to basic counselling skills which will be the basis for preparing the volunteer for a transitional period on to our helpline."

Ms Ball said the training was a good opportunity for those interested in social or youth work as well as a chance to give back to the community.

Training is for people aged 18 years and over, and runs on October 5, 6, 12 and 13.

The Southland Times