The Office of the Children’s Advocate (OCA) will be establishing a Child Helpline to provide 24-hour assistance to children seeking its services.
Children’s Advocate, Diahann Gordon Harrison, says the OCA aims to launch the helpline in the first quarter of this year.
“What we are doing is putting together a child helpline which provides remote and direct support to children on a 24-hour basis, 365 days per year and that support can range from very severe issues to mild issues,”
She said the helpline will offer counselling and other services for a range of issues, including bullying, suicidal thoughts and psychological issues.
“This helpline is something that we are very excited about. We think that what is (different about it, is that it will offer 24-hour remote support). That will make it that much useful because in Jamaica, we still do not have remote access to therapy whenever and wherever it is needed,”
Gordon Harrison explained.
She said groundwork to establish the helpline is underway, with the recent completion of a feasibility study conducted by the OCA, with the assistance of Child Helpline International.
Gordon Harrison also pointed out that the study included focus group sessions with children asking them the kind of support they feel they would need from a helpline.
She said the OCA is now recruiting experts in the field to assist in manning the helpline.
“We will be recruiting psychologists, guidance counsellors or persons with guidance and social work experience, and intake officers. We are doing the groundwork to ensure that when it is executed, it is properly done,”
Gordon Harrison noted.
“We want to ensure that we get it right. We don’t want it to be a flash in the pan. We want it to be an initiative that is sustainable, that provides the necessary help,”
The helpline is being established in partnership with the Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica (PSOJ) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).