Five Years of Youth Engagement with Kids Help Phone Canada (Part 2): Issues Discussed Over Phone, Chat, Text, and Peer-to-Peer Services by Age Range

Telemed J E Health. 2023 Sep 12. doi: 10.1089/tmj.2023.0072. Online ahead of print.


Background: There is substantial unmet need for child and youth mental health problems in Canada. Charitable organizations, such as Kids Help Phone (KHP), are critical to filling system gaps, offering 24/7 e-mental health services outside the formal health care system. Methods: For the 5-year period from January 2018 to December 2022, we describe issues discussed by young people accessing KHP's services, and examine variations across different service platforms and age groups. Results: The most discussed issues across all service platforms and age groups were anxiety/stress, depression/sadness, and relationships. Suicide was most frequently discussed over text and Live Chat compared with other services, and was proportionally most discussed by young people 10-13 years of age on the phone and text services compared with other age ranges. Sexual abuse and violence were most frequently discussed by children 0-5 and 6-9 years of age across services. Discussion: Our analysis provides a unique snapshot into the concerns faced by children and youth across Canada, as well as the issues for which KHP is seen as an accessible place to seek support. Our findings can guide the future development of health promotion activities, and assist in new service development.

Keywords: e-mental health; health system; helplines; suicide; telemedicine; youth mental health.