Youth struggle to deal with lockdown


The longer lockdown goes on, the harder young people are finding it, data from Youthline suggests.

Nationally, the number of people using Youthline’s free text message service each day had increased from 400 to 1000 in the first three weeks of lockdown, Youthline Otago manager Brian Lowe said.

Although the figures were only available at a national level, Mr Lowe said the trends would be just as applicable at a local level.

The number of people accessing Youthline services had grown each week, which showed the longer it had been going, the more distressed people were getting, Mr Lowe said.

Young people reporting mental health issues such as depression and anxiety had doubled since the start of lockdown, as had reports of relationship issues.

“That’s not necessarily in their bubbles, it could be outside of their bubbles,” Mr Lowe said.

“[They] might be missing [their] loved one or grandfather who is in Christchurch or something like that.”

There were multiple reasons why young people were struggling with the lockdown, Mr Lowe said.

“The overarching thing is the scale and speed of the change.

“Layer on top of that the fear and anxiety we generate with this virus, people might be afraid for their own health, or their grandparents’ health.

“For a lot of people their bubble is not their happy place.

“For a lot of people going to school was a positive experience and being at home wasn’t necessarily.”

Youthline’s text messaging service had not been disrupted through lockdown, considered an essential service, with staff working from home.

Safer Waitaki co-ordinator Helen Algar encouraged Waitaki youth to reach out to services like Youthline.

“It’s really critical, especially at a time like this that people reach out for help when they need it,” Mrs Algar said.

“It shows the values of people having a range of ways to connect when you need support.

“In situations like this we are so lucky to have technology and we are lucky youth are happy to use it.”

Where to get help

  • Youthline, phone 0800 376-633, free text 234, or email
  • Need to talk? Free call or text 1737 any time for support from a trained counsellor.
  • Depression Helpline, phone 0800 111-757 to talk to a trained counsellor.
  • Healthline, phone 0800 611-116, if you feel unwell or sick, or need advice.
  • Samaritans, phone 0800 726-666, if you need confidential emotional support 24/7.
  • What’s Up, phone 0800 942-8787, for 5 to 18-year-olds. Monday to Friday, noon to 11pm, weekends 3pm to 11pm. Online chat 5pm to 10pm, seven days, at
  • OUTLine NZ, phone 0800 688-5463 (0800 OUTLINE), support for sexuality or gender-identity issues. Helpline available 6pm to 9pm daily.
  • Lifeline, phone 0800 543-354, or text HELP to 4357.

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