Kids Help Phone Reaches Out with Mobile App

Since 1989, Kids Help Phone has offered a vital support system for Canadian kids and teens.

With the release of a new app, they’re taking that support to a whole new level.  

The official Kids Help Phone app, called Always There, contains information on emotional health issues and advice for dealing with violence and abuse. Its purpose is to make Kids Help Phone services more readily available to those in need, and the content is similar to that found on the organization’s website, which is targeted towards children and teens.

The app provides tips for relieving stress, and an index of information on common health issues, like anxiety and loneliness. Using a “feelings log,” users can track changes in their mood and discover how to avoid negative emotions, like depression and anxiety.

One of the most innovative aspects of the app is the Live Chat feature, which immediately connects users with a Kids Help Phone counsellor. The organization has offered online counselling via their website since 2002, including an instant messaging chat service which was piloted in 2011.

Kids Help Phone counsellors may be known for their expertise on dating, bullying, violence, and abuse, but they also offer advice on how to use technology safely.  The organization has published abundant research on technology and mental health, including a study from 2009 that looks at the effect of online gaming on kids.

Last fall, Kids Help Phone partnered with Facebook in a public bid to stop cyber-bullying. According to a 2012 report released by the organization, children and adolescents ages 12-14 are the most at risk for cyberbullying. Social network platforms are also the most likely place for bullying to occur.

With the Always There App, Kids Help Phone hopes to reach out to kids and teens suffering from abuse in any of its forms. “This app helps [kids] connect with professional insights,” said Kids Help Phone CEO Karen Wood in a press release, “but also helps them share some of their own answers and solutions with other kids.”

At the Toronto launch of the app, Ontario’s Minister of Education Laurel Broten applauded Kids Help Phone for modernizing its services.  “The new app represents the next step in the continuing commitment of Kids Help Phone to the well-being of young people, and provides youth with one more way to access their trusted service,” she said.

The Always There app is available now for iOS, BlackBerry, and Android devices. A French version of the app is in development and will be available early this year.