SACRAMENTO, Calif – More than 10,000 people have called the California Parent and Youth Helpline during the pandemic so far – but the funding is set to run out in December.
The helpline operates from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. seven days a week – so people can speak to a trained counselor about things such as parental anxiety, kids’ mental-health struggles, and conflict between parents over the best way to help their kids.
Arizona State University Assistant Professor of Sociology Elizabeth Harris analyzed all calls more than ten minutes in length – and found that the helpline is an important release valve.
“When people are at a point of acute frustration with their children, they can’t wait weeks until they get in to see a therapist,” said Harris. “They need to be able to pick up the phone and get help right now. And that’s what a helpline does.”
The helpline number is 855-4-A-PARENT (855-427-2736) and the live chat and support groups are at caparentyouthhelpline.org.
The service started at the beginning of the pandemic and will shut down at the end of the year unless the State of California extends its funding.
Lisa Pion-Berlin, PhD and president of Parents Anonymous, said counselors reassure parents that they can build their resilience and help their children.
“The therapeutic techniques we’re using help people address those underlying emotional issues so people can change behaviors,” said Pion-Berlin, “so people can deal immediately with what’s going on.”
A recent, separate study in the journal Child and Health Services Review – coauthored by Harris – found that parents who call the helpline or participate in a Parents Anonymous support group are much less likely to be accused or convicted of child abuse or neglect.