0800 What’s Up is run by Barnardos New Zealand. We’re a free, nationally-available counselling helpline and webchat service for children and teenagers.
For the past 18 years our counsellors have been helping callers to find solutions to their problems, equipping them with the tools they need to deal with situations now and in the future.
We answered over 19,707 calls and web chats.
Young people call us for many reasons. Last year, the top five were:
- Mental Health – callers told us of their concerns for their own or someone else’s mental health. Topics included anxiety, feeling down or depressed, self-harm, being clinically diagnosed with a mental illness or disorder and medication.
- Family relationships – callers talked to us about issues with their caregivers and siblings, extended family and whānau.
- Relationships - we took calls about problems with friends, peer pressure, making friends, friendship breakdowns and concerns for a friend’s wellbeing.
- Dating – many callers told us of problems with boyfriends or girlfriends and sexual issues.
- Bullying – callers told us about their experiences of deliberate emotional and physical harassment at school or at home and online bullying.
Our counsellors are trained professionals.
Many of the children and teenagers who call us are trusting an adult with their problems for the first time. Some will form an ongoing relationship with our counsellors, who’ll provide stable and reliable support when the caller needs it.
Empowering children is central to our counselling practice. We help to develop a child or teenager’s personal competence and resilience, so they can take a positive perspective on the world around them.
‘Child-centred practice’ underpins everything we do. We:
- Listen and respect what children have to say
- Focus on their needs
- See the world from their perspective
- Know that the child is the primary client
- See the child as an individual
- Respect the child
0800 What’s Up has been around for over 19 years. Jocelyn Cowern, a passionate advocate for children and young people, investigated establishing a children’s helpline in 1997. She wanted to base it on an Australian children’s help service called Kids Helpline. In 1999 the Kids Help Foundation Trust was set up and began to scope a helpline service in New Zealand, focusing on children aged seven to 12 years. This group was seen as being under-served by mental health providers and wasn’t benefiting from any other professional telephone counselling service at that time.
0800 What’s Up answered its first call on 21 September 2001. What’s Up was the first helpline to introduce a web chat service in 2014. Since then, we have answered 1.6 million calls and 10,000 chats.
In 2012, What’s Up joined Barnardos NZ as one of its key services to support children and teenagers in Aotearoa.
In January 2021, child-centred helpline Kidsline joined Barnardos NZ, complementing our existing 0800 What’s Up telephone counselling and webchat service. As a result, Barnardos 0800 What’s Up is now Aotearoa’s only national children’s helpline, providing an essential service to children and young people who need a safe place to talk with a trained counsellor.
All calls to What’s Up are free. Although we receive some government funding, to keep this service running we rely on generous supporter across Aotearoa New Zealand. Their support means we can help every child and young person who asks for it.
If you’d like to become a supporter you can make a donation here.