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So many young children in Canada are struggling in their home or school lives, yet they feel like they have nobody to talk to.
Kids Help Phone is a free, anonymous service that combats this problem by supporting them through counselling – online and over the phone. The service is available to kids 24 hours a day, seven days a week, providing helpful information and a listening ear.
We spoke with 28-year-old Aiden to find out why Kids Help Phone is important to him.
“I’d have nightmares as my brain tried to cope with what was happening. I lacked focus. My school grades weren’t good. I was bullied. Things built up and I couldn’t take it anymore. I exploded in Grade 12. I was talking to some friends about what happened over the weekend.”
Aiden continued on to explain how a problem with his mother spiralled out of control – and how Kids Help Phone helped to turn it around.
“I said I had gotten grounded because I had failed some test. Then out of nowhere I blurted, ‘My mom hits me.’ My friends believed me. My best friend walked me to a teacher and said tell them what you told me. And I did. The support I got from my school was great. I was able to get out of my house and live with my brother. But once the physical abuse was gone, the mental health problems took over,” said Aiden.
Things took a downward spiral for the youth, who was constantly haunted by the horrific memories of the abuse he suffered. He was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, dissociative identity disorder, and also anorexia.
“I would self-harm and think about suicide. I didn’t know if I wanted to live or die. Then luckily I saw a Kids Help Phone ad on a candy bar wrapper, visited their website, and posted. I got a post back and they encouraged me to call them, which I did. I was on the phone for an hour and 10 minutes and got through the crisis. But even after the crisis passed, I still needed support. So I called back. I felt lost without a family and would often talk about this with a counsellor. One day, the counsellor asked me, ‘What about a chosen family?'”
Thanks to Kids Help Phone, Aiden was able to come in touch with what really mattered, and the issue was put in to perspective.
“Family isn’t just blood relations. They are the people who love and support and care about you. It made me realize that my closest friends are like my brothers and sisters. That’s why it was so important to make connections like Kids Help Phone, to have someone listen and believe you, ” said Aiden.
Now a volunteer at Kids Help Phone, Aiden works in the healthcare industry dealing with mental health issues.
“My primary message is that if people face this kind of challenge, they need to talk about it. As a kid I used to think of superheroes as the ones who fly and wear capes. But superheroes are also the awesome people who want to make a difference in mental health. And I think it’s true to say that they saved my life,” he said.
You can show your support for Kids Help Phone this May by taking part in the Walk So Kids Can Talk five kilometre walk to support children’s mental health.
The sixteenth annual walk is taking place at two sites in the Lower Mainland – Yaletown’s David Lam Park and Holland Park in Surrey.
It’s a fun family walk and you can sign up as an individual or team with family, friends, or co-workers. The more you raise, the more you help kids like Aiden.
When: May 7, register 10 am, walk 11 am
Where: David Lam Park, adjacent to Yaletown-Roundhouse Station, or Holland Park, adjacent to Surrey Central SkyTrain Station
Price: Free. Register, fundraise and donate online
Daily Hive is a proud media sponsor of Walk So Kids Can Talk presented by BMO.