Helping Canda's Youth, One Click at a Time
by emaso1 on April 25, 2014 - 12:10pm
Children and adolescents experience a multitude of issues due to an increasingly modern society and a change in the family structure, among other things. The problems these children are facing, cannot and should not be faced alone. In an article written by Catherine Fournier on Newsactivist, she explains that Canada is helping combat this issue by establishing a free, online or phone counseling services for Canada’s youth. An organization called “Kids Help Phone”, allows individuals to contact professional counselors, day or night, 365 days a year. These counselors provide support and advice for all sorts of problems, no matter how big or how small the problem is.
According to the “Kids Help Phone” website, the mission of the organization is to improve the overall well being of children in Canada. The organization seeks to promote this idea by providing anonymous, confidential, professional support by counselors at anytime of the day or night. The organization implements supportive techniques in both English and in French, as well as different means of communication such as via the Internet or over the phone. The overall goal of the organization is to provide support to youth and in turn the youth will feel more comfortable disclosing other problems they are facing and get help for those issues. Ultimately, they want the children receiving the services they are providing to have a successful and happy life, using the tools that were given to them by the organization. Change can be achieved through constant support in a non-judgmental way. The website http://org.kidshelpphone.ca/en has been accessed 54 million times by Canada’s youth. In addition, youth have contacted counseling professions 5,000 times.
The intended benefit or results of the activities planned by the organization is to end the silence that children feel they have to obey when they do not report abuse or mistreatment, as well as to raise awareness that children are experiencing real issues and these children need help and support dealing with the issues they face everyday. The activities the organization participates in and even run include annual 5K walks that send the message of ending the stigma associated with seeking help for and being diagnosed with mental health issues. The walks are also a strategy to raise money to support the counseling services. The website stated that they raised more than $2 million during the “Walk so Kids Can Talk” campaign. The organization presents at various venues to raise awareness of child abuse what their mission can to do help children at need.
“Kids Help Phone” obtains financial support through predominantly community fundraising events. They also receive revenue from foundations and associations, corporate giving, government project based funding, individual giving, and other sources as well (http://org.kidshelpphone.ca/en). The website also indicates that there are 75 full- and part-time counselors who are employed by the organization. There are also an abundance of unpaid volunteers, a board of directors, and a management team. All members seek to live out the mission of “Kids Help Phone”.
Overall, their message seems to be an important one. The organization wants to raise awareness of child abuse and erase the stigma of obtaining and being diagnosed with a mental illness. It also wants to provide support to any child, adolescent or young adult who needs someone to listen to their problems and to receive advice. As a change consultant, the organization could fundamentally rethink what they do. Their main assumption is less likely to produce the desired outcomes, particularly the long-term goals.
Presently, the organization is fighting a societal problem by helping the individual. This approach does not necessarily work well. Emile Durkheim would argue that social currents influence individual behavior. Social currents are dictated by society and through this dictation, influence how people think and feel. Social currents are crystalized and somehow institutionalized. In this case, there is something going on in society that is causing these children to feel a certain way, whether positive or negative. Durkheim uses the example of suicide to demonstrate the societal effects on the individual. He contends that certain aspects of society cause different types of reasons for individuals contemplating suicide. Whether the thought of suicide comes from a society that does not value individualism or values too much individualism or if the society is too restrained or too unconstrained, society definitely plays a role in an individual making the decision to commit suicide.
There are many pressures on parents, teachers, and other adult figures that are supposed to provide support and guidance for children that are unable to because they are dealing with these social currents. These social currents may include having to balance a work-family relationship or in a teacher’s case, a change in the curriculum. The social currents previously mentioned are similar to the social currents individuals feel if they are contemplating suicide, according to Durkheim. This is when Kids Help Phone comes into play; it becomes a secondary source of support for children who would not otherwise get it. In this way, Kids Help Phone is fighting the societal problem of pressures that primary sources of support face by providing secondary support to the individuals in that society who are greatly affected by the lack of support from a primary source. The problem still exists and it is not being fixed. The problem is being dealt with once it has already occurred. If the problem can be tackled before it starts affecting the child, which would be a more beneficial approach.
Kids Help Kids could potentially prevent the issue of children seeking secondary support by providing additional support for the parents and adults who remain in the lives of the children. Instead of providing professional counseling services to just children, they could think about providing counseling services to adults as well. Adults are facing all sorts of societal pressures and perhaps if they had someone to talk to, whom they trusted, they would be able to provide a more stable environment for their children to flourish in. Maybe they can team up with an organization that already provides mental health services for adults and develop some sort of partnership. The organization could even provide or implement life skills or parenting classes for children and adults to participate in together. To help change a child’s life, they need to be able to enforce a change in the child’s environment as well, especially if long-term happiness and success is what the organization is striving for. A short-term suggestion, even before helping the adults through their tough times, could be giving some sort of services to the adults in training them how to deal and support their children better. Perhaps before dealing with the problems that are being faced by adults, Kids Help Phone could provide classes to the adults that would instruct them on how to deal with bullying, relationship problems, or academic problems that Canadian’s youth face everyday.
Even this idea is addressing the problem, at a sort of individual level, rather than trying to change society. It is a step though, however. Kids Help Phone seeks to provide counseling and support services for Canada’s youth to make sure those children can lead happier and healthier lives. If Kids Help Phone allowed adults to call their hotline and talk to professionals, it would make the environments the children have to deal with on a daily basis more conducive to the organization’s mission statement.
Kids Help Phone is a free, anonymous and confidential phone and on-line professional counseling service for youth. Big or small concerns. 24/7. 365 days a year. Read more. (n.d.). Kids Help Phone Org. Retrieved from http://org.kidshelpphone.ca/en.