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 19 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.
Our counsellors have taken 1.6m calls and 29000 web chats.
Young people call us for many reasons. Last year, the top five were:
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:
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.
ImpactLab analysed the social value of our 0800 What’s Up service using their GoodMeasure methodology to assess its positive benefits, such as increased income, and avoided costs to government. Social value is the social impact in dollar terms that a programme achieves for participants over their lifetime. They found that 0800 What’s Up provides $2 of social value for every dollar spent on it, an excellent outcome for this unique service.Read the full report here.
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.