When would I contact a Helpline?

Helplines are there to help if you want to talk (kōrero) with someone about what is going on and how it is making you feel.

You can also call if you know someone who may need help.

It’s completely okay to call or message a helpline – no problem is too big or small. You don’t have to ‘prove’ you deserve help.

Do I have to call or can I message?

No.  A lot of helplines also have text or messaging options if you are more comfortable chatting that way than talking to someone over the phone.

Check out the information below about which helplines have text or messaging services.

Why contact a helpline?

There are lots of reasons why contacting a helpline can be useful. You can get support straight away and advice from a counsellor without having to make an appointment or travel somewhere.

You don’t have to give your name, so you can stay anonymous and most helplines don’t cost anything.

Calling a helpline can be the first step in getting support.

The telephone counsellors can even tell you about other services that might be useful for you and the problem you are dealing with.

Am I really anonymous?

Yes, in most cases.  Your phone number or email address goes through a central contact centre before being connected to a helpline counsellor where this information is removed.

BUT, if the helpline feel that you or someone else are at serious risk, they do have to get in touch with someone else.

They will normally talk to you about doing this before they do it.

Youthline describe it like this:

Everything you say is confidential within Youthline. 

We do not pass information based on what you tell us to any external organisations or family members except in dangerous situations where we are concerned that there is a high risk that you or someone else might be harmed.

In these situations we will attempt to work with you first to do this. 

What can I expect when I call a helpline?

What happens first?

When you call a helpline, you’ll probably hear a pre-recorded message about the service you’ve called.

Depending on the time of day and the type of helpline, you might have to wait a few minutes until a counsellor is available.

If you text or use a messaging service, once you contact them, a trained helpline counsellor will usually message back.  Sometimes, the first message could be an automatic reply letting you know that someone will chat with you soon.

Some helplines are only open for certain hours during the day.  Check out the information below to check the hours for each one.

Who will answer my call or message?

 A trained helpline counsellor will connect with you.

People who work at helplines have had a lot of  training and mentoring in talking to young people and helping them with a variety of issues.

What will they ask me?

 Your helpline counsellor will ask you questions about your situation to understand what you need.

This could last from a few minutes to up to an hour.

They won’t ask you for your last name, address, or any information that could identify you. You don’t even need to say your first name if you don’t want to.

How can they help?

The helpline counsellor you connect with  will listen to (or read) your problem carefully.

They might help you to work out possible solutions.

Youthline explain it like this:

If you are in a difficult position we may ask you how they can help and may offer some ideas, but we are not in the business of making judgments or telling you what to do. 

We are in the business of working stuff out together.  This may take one call or TXT, or many – it’s up to you. 

What if I don’t click with the person on the helpline?

Give them a chance. Sometimes if we are feeling emotional, we can get defensive.  The person is there to help.

There might be times when you don’t click with the person, even after giving them a chance.

Don’t let that stop you from getting back in touch.  Helplines have a range of staff and most of the time, the next time you contact them, you will be connected with someone different who you might click with.

What if more help is needed?

Some problems require more support than a helpline can give you, especially if ongoing or longer term support would be helpful.

Helpline counsellors will usually be able to refer you to other services or suggest services you can get in touch with yourself.

You could also think about confiding in a friend, family member or person you trust.

What not to do when you call a helpline:

If you’re calling a helpline, it would be helpful to remember what a helpline does and what it doesn’t.

Here are some don’ts from the White Swan Foundation:

  • Don’t assume that all your problems will be solved in a single phone call or chat. Some problems may be serious and require longer term support from other services.
  • Don’t give up responsibility of your problem. Telling the counsellor what is going on does not automatically make it their responsibility to fix it.
  • Don’t expect advice: What should I do? The purpose of counselling is to empower you to see things more clearly and to find your own ways or skills to deal with your challenges, and not for the counsellors to offer their solutions to your problems.
  • Don’t get abusive or misuse the service
  • Don’t call “just to chat” – a helpline counsellor is a professional or volunteer who is offering their services, and not a friend. Calling the helpline just to have a friendly conversation may hold up the line and prevent someone in a crisis from getting help when they need it.


Helplines Specifically for Young People

Please see below for a list of helplines set up to support young people.


They say:

At Youthline, we try to make it easy for you to get in touch by making sure that there are lots of ways you can reach us.

It’s normal to worry about asking for help – but at Youthline we are here to listen and help you figure out what is right for you. 

0800 376 633 24/7 support

free text 234 between 8am and midnight

or email

Online Chat

Youthline’s online chat service is open between 7pm-11pm

Here’s how it works:

Go to the online chat link

1) Select the ‘Click to Chat’ button

2) Enter a username & email address

3)”Click to chat” to enter the waiting list and a counsellor will be with you as soon as they can

Youthline also have Face to Face counselling available in different parts of the country, click HERE

The Lowdown

They say:

Sometimes life’s ups and downs are more than just the usual ups and downs.  

If you’re stuck feeling bad we’ll help you figure out if it could be anxiety or depression.

Whatever’s going on you’ll find ideas and people who can help you get unstuck.

Check out 

Free text 5626, 24/7

or email  24/7

What’s Up

A safe place for you to talk about anything at all

0800 942 8787 (for 5–18 year olds). Phone counselling is available Monday to Friday, midday–11pm and weekends, 3pm–11pm.

Online chat is available 7pm–10pm daily Click HERE 

They do say “Because a lot of young people use online chat, there is often a wait time before a counsellor is available. So if you need to speak to someone straight away, phone What’s Up and speak to a counsellor in person”


They say:

At Kidsline we think everyone needs to be heard, and we want to be here to talk things through with you, and listen to what’s happening to you. So give us a call, and talk to one of our Buddies!

0800 54 37 54 (0800 kidsline) for young people up to 18 years of age.

Kidsline is available 24/7 however if you ring between 4pm-9pm Monday – Friday you will speak to a Kidsline Buddy – a specially trained teenage telephone counsellor.


Other Helplines

Other helplines are set up to support all ages.

1737, need to talk?

The 4-digit number is free to text or call anytime to talk with a trained counsellor.

1737 is staffed by a team of paid counsellors who are available 24 hours a day 7 days a week.

What does the service provide?

When someone texts or calls 1737 a counsellor will work with the person to develop a care plan.

This could include referral to another service, additional counselling or provision of information and support.

Is the service confidential?

Yes 1737 is completely confidential, people can remain anonymous if they wish. If however if it becomes clear that someone is at risk of harm it may be necessary for us to contact Police or ambulance.