The phones are ringing off the hook at Kids Help Phone, as more and more children, teens and young adults struggle during the COVID-19 pandemic. “We’ve seen an increase of about 112 per cent across the board so a big huge increase in the volume and the stress from young people,” says Kids Help Phone CEO Katherine Hay. There are more calls, increased demand for counsellors, and a 51 per cent spike in the texting service in B.C. alone, as the non-profit deals with the biggest mental health crisis it’s ever seen. On any given day, people in crisis as young as age five to about 26 will reach out for help. Surprisingly, the biggest increase is in younger age groups. “They are finding seven, eight and nine-year-old kids calling more frequently than normal and in more distress than normal so that’s a real indication of isolation, loneliness, fear for the future,” Hay says. The conversations paint a disturbing picture of grief and loss. There are also heightened body image issues and an increase in abuse — physical, psychological and sexual. It’s incredibly concerning but there is some good news. “They know they need to seek help so their help-seeking behaviour is a real strong coping skill and a strong showing of resiliency,” says Hay. She says we can all help by checking in with the kids in our lives to ask if they’re okay, keep the lines of communication open, and make sure they know Kids Help Phone is there 24/7 if they need it. If you or someone you know needs help, you can call 1-800-668-6868.