Kids Helpline @ School participation rates exceed targets during COVID-19


Almost 25,000 children from 263 schools Australia-wide took part in the Kids Helpline @ School mental health and wellbeing program in 2020. National participation rates exceeded targets by some 13 per cent, with schools in Victoria, the most lockdown affected state, signing up for the most sessions.

The Kids Helpline @ School program uses WebChat and online resources to help schools and teachers promote positive mental health amongst children through topics such as emotional literacy, resilience building and digital safety. The program’s development and delivery is supported through a financial commitment of more than two million dollars from the Bupa Health Foundation.

Tracy Adams, CEO of yourtown, which runs Kids Helpline, said the program was needed more than ever in 2020 – even though schools were often empty. Our counsellors were connecting to schools and to students’ homes, using whichever platform that state’s education department was operating with.

"We’ve been developing digital platforms to reach children and young people for a number of years now, so we were able to quickly shift our support from classroom-based to home-based programs during periods of state and regional lock-downs last year.

“A special COVID-19 topic was introduced in the early days of the pandemic, and the overall demand highlighted the importance of young people connecting with others to improve their mental health during what was an incredibly challenging school year,” said Ms Adams.

An evaluation conducted by yourtown at the end of 2020, showed 70 per cent of children involved intended to try a new positive behaviour as a result of the Kids Helpline @ School program, and 81 per cent said they would consider contacting Kids Helpline if they had a concern or worry.

Julie Bissinella, Bupa’s Director of Community Engagement, said the program supported the Bupa Health Foundation’s focus on developing mentally healthy and resilient communities.

“Kids Helpline is playing a vital role in Australia’s health response to COVID-19 by ensuring children and young people of all ages can get timely access to mental wellbeing services when they need it most.” 

“Innovative programs and delivery models such as Kids Helpline @ School extend the reach and impact of these services, providing critical support and skills development for our young people,” said Julie.

Kids Helpline @ School is aiming to reach a further 30,000 young people in 2021 with ongoing development of the counsellor sessions available to schools and the digital platforms that are used to deliver the service.

Bupa Health Foundation’s partnership with Kids Helpline formed part of more than $3.9m it invested in the community in 2020.

Media reference number: 20/121