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Youthline launches public appeal for help amid surge in demand for services

Youthline has launched a public appeal for financial help amid a surge in demand for services during the nationwide Covid-19 lockdown.

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The helpline is asking for $230,000 to make up for its funding shortfall. Source: 1 NEWS

The phone line needs $230,000 to make up for its financial shortfall following a tough lockdown period.

Youthline CEO Shae Ronald said the charity has seen a 50 per cent increase in young people reaching out for help over the lockdown period. There was also an 85 per cent increase in young people who said they felt unsafe in their own homes, or were at risk of being harmed by others.

Ms Ronald said while the charity was able to be available for more people through the help of their partners, they "really need more".

"We've got a $230,000 shortfall that we are protecting because a number of funders, of course, have turned around and said they're not in a position to fund us anymore," she told TVNZ1's Breakfast this morning.

"We are in a position where we are launching a public appeal and asking for support. We know, with [the] economic downturn ... that disproportionately impacts the mental health and wellbeing of young people, so we want to make sure we continue to be here for young people and their families through this period that's to come."

Source: TVNZ

She said the charity would like you see text and webchat support ramped up, as well as "any support with our shortfall".

"If they [the Government] could support us a little bit to help us towards being here for young people over this coming period, and their families, we'd be incredibly grateful," she said.

The Ministry of Health has this morning announced it will put funding towards providing a variety of support, tools and resources, including Youthline, to help young people manage anxiety caused by Covid-19. 

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Deputy director-general of mental health and addiction Robyn Shearer joined Breakfast to discuss the cash injection. Source: 1 NEWS

The funding will go towards Youthline's web chat function, which allows young people to talk with a Youthline volunteer if they are in need of support.

"We know young people are really affected by the uncertainty of Covid-19 and may be impacted through a lack of social connection, financial stability or protective factors,” the deputy-director general of mental health and addiction, Robyn Shearer, said in a statement.

Ms Shearer told Breakfast this morning that the ministry is also currently in the process of reviewing proposals for youth-focused services across the country.

"I'm sure Youthline's part of that process, so we expect those contracts to be let very soon," she said.

The charity is currently receiving $90,000 from the Government.