Tag Archives: kids

Kids Help Phone (no fancy subject line needed)

26 Aug

It’s always interesting when something totally unexpected pops up and steals your attention. This article by Andrea Gordon in yesterday’s Toronto Star about Kids Help Phone was one of those things. To be honest, I clicked on the link by accident (I actually meant to click on an article about beer. Go figure).After reading it, I decided my sloppy clicking must have happened for a reason, hence me writing this post.

For those of you that don’t know (this may be most of my American readers, unless I’m mistaken in my belief that this is a Canadian organization. I’d be happy to know that I’m wrong!) KPH is a telephone (and now also online) counselling service for youth 8-20 years of age that need someone to talk to. This incredibly admirable organization runs on donations and the fully qualified counsellors take approximately 210,000 calls a year from young people in varying degrees of distress.

I never made use of their services growing up, but looking back, I definitely should have. It was not for lack of knowing about the organization or what its purpose was; I’m fairly certain KHP has been around almost as long as I have been and to this day you find the phone number plastered across the packaging of daily consumable products aimed at kids like breakfast cereal and candy.

My reasons for never making the call were for the same misconceptions cited in Gordon’s article – I didn’t feel that my “issues” were ever important enough. I wasn’t facing abuse or molestation. I didn’t hurt myself or find myself having suicidal thoughts.

But there were times that I was unhappy and scared. I was bullied in grade school and suppressed a lot of negative feelings stemming from my parents’ divorce. I struggled with having to grow up way too fast and with constant guilt trips from my biological father. In my late teens and early 20s, when I felt like I had lost control of everything else in my life, I focused on the one thing in my life that I could control: eating. I lost both weight and years to anorexia, a battle that left more than its fair share of scar that still ache to this day. And yet I still never once thought that any of this was reason to call that hotline.

It wasn’t until my second year of university when I was finally dragging myself out of a terrible relationship that I finally realized I needed help. I only saw my therapist for two months and for the most part, all he did was listen and occasionally as a few difficult questions, but the healing was transformative. I left my final session wondering what had taken me so damn long.

It wasn’t like I didn’t have anyone to talk to. My mother has always been my rock. To this day, I tell her way more than most people probably ever dream of telling their parents. But at the time there were some things I didn’t want to tell her.

Even kids that have amazing relationships with their parents still have their own reasons for holding back. For me, it was guilt. I knew that my mom was going through a lot of shit – the divorce, being a single mom raising three kids on social services and trying to help us each through our turbulent adolescent years while trying to start her life over again. Middle Brother was going through a million phases at once and Youngest Brother was indeed young enough that she needed all the help she could get raising him.

I didn’t feel it was fair to her to pile more garbage on her plate when she was already at the end of her rope as it was.

If had understood then that KHP was also for kids like me, I would have been all over that shit.

Which is why I’m making this post now.

I know that the Kids Help Phone demographic aren’t the ones reading my blog, but I do know that I have a lot of parents or people with children in their lives that do. I know that no parent likes the thought that maybe one day their child would want or need to seek the council of someone that isn’t them. But take it from me, it happens.

KPH is safe, free and confidential. There’s no waiting for appointments or stigma and kids can call whenever they feel they need it.

I don’t even know how you would begin having this conversation but I think it would be nothing but a good thing if each kid was made to understand that, even though they can always talk to mom and dad if they have a problem, there are still other options for the times they. I would love to see this promoted in schools. I would love for more kids out there to know that they aren’t as alone as they think they are.