Children and young people do not always turn to their parents with their problems. Problems at school, with peers or themselves, are rather discussed among friends. They look for answers, like-minded people on the Internet or keep it to themselves. But what happens when the problems become bigger and the people concerned can no longer find a way out? If you as a parent notice that your child is not doing well? The Internet is not always a good source of advice on problems, but there are definitely safe and helpful digital counseling services for young people and parents.
Online counseling services offer support for problems and concerns such as bullying, eating disorders, or depression. Some services are aimed specifically at children and young people. Those affected can seek help on their own and get advice on various topics anonymously and free of charge via a website or by telephone.
In addition to individual counselling, many of the counselling services on the net offer the possibility to discuss problems in a group or a forum. For individual counselling, those affected write their problems directly to psychologically trained counsellors. In such an exchange, young people receive immediate help and support. Depending on the problem and the need, this exchange can vary in length. Group offers usually take place in a rhythm, e.g. weekly. Regular participation is often helpful, but not absolutely necessary. Sometimes, like-minded people can be found in such chats who are also there for each other outside of the meetings. Within forums, affected persons exchange information with peers. Peers are people of the same age. They have been trained to help with problems in the chat. In addition, they always have the possibility of accessing the help of adult professionals. The exchange in the forums is also moderated to avoid insults, triggers or the disclosure of data.
The counselling and support services differ in terms of which age group is addressed, which topics are the focus and how counselling can be accessed. Some services are also aimed at parents seeking help:
Help offers on the net can be accepted easily and free of charge. They are more accessible to young people than, for example, counselling centres. The counsellors are trained and those affected remain anonymous. Making contact can be a first and right step. Especially in case of problems at school, at home or with oneself, it can help to exchange ideas with peers or to get the advice of an objective person. However, online counselling is no substitute for therapy! In case of suicidal thoughts or mental disorders, it is imperative to seek the advice of another therapeutic professional and to seek ongoing therapy. Other professionals should also be sought for legal or medical issues.
Tell your child that these services exist. Explain that compared to groups in open forums or on social media, they are safer because trained staff are behind them. Also beware of so-called psycho apps. These are not always helpful and can even be dangerous. Show your child which services it can use without hesitation when it has problems and worries.
Above all, make it clear that he or she can count on your help if problems arise. Do not put pressure on your child and ask without bias if you feel he/she has problems. A problem that seems small to you may feel much worse to your child. You can also get counselling yourself or together online.