It is a real blow for the youngest, who require psychological help in these difficult times. The Polish government resigns from co-financing the Helpline for Children and Youth, which has been operating for 14 years. Material of the magazine “Polska i Świat”.
116 111 – for years, children across the European Union have been able to get help on this telephone number. – Children call often. The phone does not stop and we actually pick up another call every now and then – says Anna Czołnok, a consultant of the Helpline of the Dajemy Dzieciom strength foundation. – I cannot imagine today’s child and adolescent psychiatry without this phone – adds psychotherapist Anna Wardęga.
The phone has been ringing day and night since 2008. In Poland, it is run by the Empowering Children Foundation. Professional consultants answer almost 60,000 calls a year. Jolanta Zmarzlik from the Empowering Children Foundation says that for several years hard work was done to popularize the issue.
The government resigns from financing a Helpline for Children and Youth
The Helpline was launched in line with EU agreements – it enjoyed the support of the Ministry of the Interior and Administration, but gradually lost government funding.
At the end of 2021, we heard that the government is launching its own support telephone for children, available on the website of the children’s ombudsman – 800 12 12 12. The state is replacing the well-known number 116 111. – There was a time when about 50 percent was state funds and they melted and melted. At the moment they have melted to zero – says Zmarzlik.
Journalists and the foundation asked the ministry whether the ministry withdrew funding for line 116 111. – We asked for a written answer. We don’t have it yet – says Paula Włodarczyk from the Empowering Children Foundation.
The Foundation also collects signatures under petition to the prime minister. In the last year alone, consultants conducted over 800 crisis interventions. They reacted when the children tried to kill themselves. – This is over two children saved daily – emphasizes Zmarzlik. “These are interventions on children who say they have just made an attempted suicide,” he adds.
For many of these children, the number 116 111 turned out to be the last chance for a life. – The mental health of Polish children and adolescents in Poland leaves much to be desired – points out Dr. Agnieszka Siedler from the Academy of Special Education. – It is easier for them to ask for help, convey difficult information to a person they do not know and be anonymous – admits the national consultant in the field of child and adolescent psychiatry, Dr. Aleksandra Lewandowska.
More and more children are attempting suicide
From the beginning of January to the end of November 2021, over 1,300 children tried to take their own lives. According to the Police Headquarters, it is almost 500 teenagers more than in 2020. – There is a very large group that is not documented, so this data is greatly underestimated – adds Dr. Aleksandra Lewandowska. The youngest child in the statistics is a seven-year-old.
You can reach for this help yourself, even when there is no support nearby. – It is always a parent, an adult must take the child to a psychologist, psychiatrist, and this is often another obstacle. Such a form, where the child can boldly call, is very important – says Dr. Agnieszka Siedler.
Regardless of whether the problems with which children call are huge or they only seem enormous – Jolanta Zmarzlik ensures that the 116 111 telephone is for them. – We are doing everything we can to answer this phone – he adds.
Main photo source: TVN24