Crisis helpline Lifeline Aotearoa’s text support service recorded its busiest month ever in April with more than 30,000 texts sent and received.
This follows a previous record set in March of 27,000 texts sent and received.
Both figures are higher than during last year’s lockdowns when text traffic peaked at 25,000 per month.
According to Presbyterian Support Northern (PSN), which operates Lifeline Aotearoa, the figures represent a growth in the number of text conversations, mainly involving young people aged between 11 and 20.
PSN professional practice lead Dr Fiona Pienaar says the increase in text conversations reflects both an increase in people texting Lifeline and higher complexity.
“Some people may send in 10 texts, while others may have complicated issues that require longer text conversations. The top issue we saw reported in April was relationship challenges, such as with families, peers and relationship break-ups, followed by suicide risk, and anxiety or depression.”
Dr Pienaar says that while there does not seem to be an immediate trigger for the increase, the effects of the pandemic and uncertainty about the world and our young people’s future in it, can cause stress at home, school and in the community.
“On top of this, young people today have to deal with constant pressure from social media, online bullying and rising competition for jobs.”
In 2020, Lifeline’s texting data showed 60% of people using the service were between the ages of 11 and 20 while only 10% of the same age group used the phone service. Calls to Lifeline’s phone services also continue to be high with the monthly average consistently being around 10,000 calls.
“Clearly there is a high demand for our services and it’s not showing any signs of decreasing. It’s a positive sign that young people are reaching out, seeking help, and communicating in a format that they feel comfortable using. While we are doing all we can to answer texts and calls in a timely manner, family and friends can also lend their support,” says Dr Pienaar.
Lifeline is entirely funded by donations, which can be made online through its website: www.lifeline.org.nz/donate.