Research — 15 August 2014

Mental health and wellbeing issues faced by parents and carers contacting the Not for Profit Parentline counselling service have increased significantly over the past year, a new report has revealed.

Parentline is a telephone and online counselling service for parents and other people who care for children in Queensland and the Northern Territory and is funded through donations to the BoysTown charity and State Government funding.

The Parentline Overview 2013 report has revealed that across all calls to the service, contacts about parent mental health and emotional wellbeing showed the highest increase since 2012.

The results mirror the BoysTown analysis of its national Kids Helpline in June, which revealed mental health was the number one concern among children and young people.bigstock_Motherhood_25839

The earlier report found Kids Helpline received more than 700,000 direct contacts and self-directed help seeking website inquiries mostly from young people aged between five and 25 years last year. An increase of 9 per cent from 645,219 in 2012.

According to General Manager of Counselling Services at Parentline, Wendy Protheroe, the latest results show an increase of close to 3 per cent, which is of significant concern with some callers needing urgent intensive support services.

“Fifty-three per cent said they were coping with the mental stress but needed support, 29 per cent said their issue was interfering with their parenting, while in 5 per cent of cases our counsellors needed to initiate an urgent intervention strategy to assist the caller,” Protheroe said.

“Parents and carers can be under significant stress, through worries about work or money, along with managing partner relationship issues and the challenging or violent behaviour of their child.

“The challenging behaviour of children and parent-child relationships are the top two reasons parents and carers contact Parentline.”

The majority of contacts about mental and emotional wellbeing were from single parents (71 per cent) and parents with a female child (63 per cent). Parents and carers with young children aged up to nine years made up the majority of contacts about the issue (67 per cent).

On average, counsellors respond to 211 parent and carer contacts each week. The top five concerns reported in 2013 were:

  1. Challenging behaviour and discipline
  2. Parent-child relationships
  3. Child mental health/emotional wellbeing
  4. Parenting strategies
  5. Parent mental health/emotional wellbeing

The top five issues (in order) among children and young people calling Kids Helpline last year were mental health concerns, family relationships, emotional wellbeing, suicide-related concerns, and dating and partner relationships.

Kids Helpline CEO Tracy Adams said in June the demand for ongoing counselling support for children and young people continues to increase, as counsellors help them deal with severe, complex and often long-standing issues.

“Forty three per cent of children and young people who received counselling from the service last year were experiencing suicidality, deliberate self-injury and mental health concerns,” she said.

About 156,000 telephone calls and emails, and web contacts went unanswered in 2013 due to funding constraints.

Wendy Protheroe said family relationships continued to be the most common concern for children and young people aged between five and 18 years.

“Almost one in five counselling contacts were with children and young people seeking help about family relationships,” she said.

This article first appeared on ‘Pro Bono News‘ on 14 August 2014.


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