In a New Zealand first, Mercury Bay Area School is partnering with Barnardos (NZ) in piloting access to their 0800 What’s Up child helpline service directly through the school website.
Professional webchat service for Whitianga's youth
0800 What’s Up is a free, nationally-available counselling helpline and webchat service for children and teenagers. For the past 18 years their counsellors have been helping callers to find solutions to their problems, and equipping them with the tools they need to deal with situations now and in the future.
Offering a webchat service is an important aspect of providing support via a channel that many young people prefer to use, and the statistics around this demonstrate its popularity. The service is manned by trained professional counsellors who provided help to young New Zealanders through over 19,000 calls and chats last year alone.
Mercury Bay Area School already has a very well established help-seeking culture. Our kids are not ashamed to stick their hand up and ask for help, and this is shown in the number of students who self refer to our counselling, nursing and youth support services team. We recognise however, that not all young people like to talk face to face around issues affecting them, and it is vital that we promote and provide easy access to alternative mediums through which they can get to support easily. Embedding the link to 0800 What’s Up within the front page of the school website will support access to help being one step closer, particularly outside of school hours and through the extended holiday periods where school based services are not available.
Carolyn Gibbs, Head of Kura Wellbeing – Mercury Bay Area School
Confidential service available 24/7
0800 What’s Up is a confidential service, and the school will not be able to access any information on which students access the service, nor what they access it for. “The only thing we will be measuring is the amount of traffic that goes through the link” says Carolyn. “This way we can see if it is indeed a successful initiative that other schools may like to follow.”
Mental health issues don't take a holiday and neither does our 0800 WHATSUP helpline. As you’ll be aware, we have a youth mental health crisis in New Zealand – Aotearoa has the highest rate of youth suicide in the OECD, and almost 1 in 5 young New Zealand children are living with an anxiety disorder and/or depression.
Lesley Butler, 0800 What’s Up Team Leader – Barnardos (NZ)
The festive season and summer holidays can be a lonely, hard time in Aotearoa for many children. Friends are important, especially to teenagers. For those children and young people who live in remote areas, isolation from friends over the summer break can be extremely difficult. Some children and young people miss school because it’s a safe, stable environment, and many miss the bonds with school counsellors and/or teachers.
Local website designers ensure smooth launch
School website designers, and local business ‘Creative Fuel’, have worked on the graphics and link to ensure a smooth launch of the initiative which will be rolled out in a promotion initially to all year 6 to 10 students over the coming weeks.
Our kura-wide emphasis on the mental health and wellbeing of our young people as a priority is a very purposeful ongoing focus. We know that without positive wellbeing our tamariki and rangatahi are not able to fully engage in the exploration, curiosity and inquiry that form the basis of learning. Mercury Bay Area School is committed to be responsive in the wellbeing space, and pursuing initiatives such as this one to ensure as much accessibility as possible is provided to all students who may require support navigating challenges and issues affecting their wellbeing.
John Wright, Mercury Bay School Principal.
View the new link
Click to view the new link on the Mercury Bay Area School Website homepage.