Counselling teens by phone
They're calling it Bro Talk
, targeting teenage boys between 14-18. They can talk to a counsellor on the phone for free about any issue they like — about fitting in, depression, relationships, sex, online bullying, parents, peer pressure, teachers, whatever they want.
Kids Phone Talk is a non-profit organization that began in 1989 and provides counselling to Canada's 6.5 million youth at no cost year-round, surviving mostly on corporate donations and donations from individuals.
Sharon Wood is the CEO of Kid Phone Talk and said both experience and a focus group study shows them that boys are reaching out for help far less often than are girls. The hope is that this new support service will encourage more teen boys to talk.
A particular concern with male teens and males in general is their extremely high suicide rate
. Males in every age category take their own lives at far higher rates than females, in some age categories as high as five times more. Teen males commit suicide at a far higher rate than females and getting them to open up about their issues is one way of preventing suicide.
Primary reasons boys don't reach out for include embarrassment and feeling ashamed at needing help and shame around talking about their problems. But Wood said when they do reach out they are talking to the counsellors about significant issues.
"Boys also reach out around abuse that they've experienced personally or may be aware of in their families," Wood told the CBC. "A smaller number of boys are reaching out around issues of bullying and harassment."
Here, in Kids Phone Talk's own words
from their website, is information on who answers the phone when kids call:
"Our counsellors come from a wide range of backgrounds. We don’t share the same story, but we all share a passion for helping others," the website says. "We come from many different cultures and speak many different languages.
"Some of us were born in Canada or moved here when we were very young, while some of us spent most of our lives in another country before moving here. We are men, women, and gender-fluid. We are straight and also part of the LGBQ community."
The number to call is 1-866-393-5933. There is also information about issues they may have such as depression and bullying available on the Kids Phone Talk website.