Crisis hotlines for children and young people receive a fifth more calls

Crisis hotlines for children and young people receive a fifth more calls
Credit: Belga

Crisis hotlines for children and young people saw a sharp increase in Flanders and Brussels in the number of calls last year, with 19% more requests for crisis aid than in 2020. In the first months of 2022, the number of new calls has also increased to an average of forty every day, announced the Flemish Agency Opgroeien (Growing Up).

In 2020, the number of registered calls was still at 5,985 for telephone consultation and 5,983 for crisis assistance, in 2021 this rose to 7,130 consultation calls and 7,126 calls that resulted in a search for crisis help. In the first eight months of 2022, there were 4,794 and 4,965 respectively.

Limited specialised crisis help

In Flanders and Brussels, there are six crisis hotlines which are available around the clock each day of the week for care providers, young people or families in a crisis situation.

A hotline employee answers a call and tries to give the caller the necessary tools to deal with the crisis themselves. If the crisis hotline and the applicant estimate that specialised crisis assistance is required, the employee will actively seek help within a network of inter-sector actors who provide crisis assistance.

"For one in three requests for that specialised crisis help, young people or families received the message that no help was available at the time of notification," says spokesperson Niels Heselmans of the agency Opgroeien.

Covid-19 was a catalyst for crisis situations

"The most intense Covid period is now behind us, but in the aftermath the figures continue to peak at the same level," said Heselmans. "That applies to both disturbing home situations and psychological vulnerabilities. In the latter category, we have also seen an enormous increase among girls since 2021, especially among adolescent girls. That line will clearly continue this year."

The rising demand for crisis aid presents us with major challenges, says Flemish Minister of Welfare Hilde Crevits.

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"Recently, there were already consultations with the chairs of the crisis networks. Together with them, we are looking for possible solutions within our powers in the short term, such as in cases of distress. But additional efforts are also needed in child and youth psychiatry."


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