More than half of the calls made to counselling service Kids Helpline in the first six months of the year went unheard, a new report has revealed.
Compiled by the service's partner charity, Your Town, the data found up to 71,533 or 51 per cent of calls went unheard.
Meanwhile, over the same period of time, the number of calls to the services increased from 146292 to 148,776.
Visits to the website also increased by 59 per cent, from 552,103 to 875,280.
Professor David Perkins is the director of the Centre for Rural and Remote Mental Health, a subsidiary of Newcastle University.
Working through the Riverina and the Central West, Professor Perkins explained it was not altogether surprising to see the increase in calls and web traffic.
"What we're seeing here is the demand outstripping the supply," Professor Perkins said.
"Lifeline has also seen an increased amount of calls, it's up about 80 per cent on previous years.
"The problem is, calls are not equally distributed throughout the day and night.
"There will always be times when calls are missed unfortunately, it's unreasonable to expect 100 per cent of calls to be picked up, but you would hope for more than 50 per cent."
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While calls may have also increased for other age group services, Professor Perkins pointed out the unique problem with children's services failing to deliver.
Servicing the ages of five to 25, Kids Helpline responds to the most vulnerable people.
When a young person feels unheard, Professor Perkins said it can lead to increased mental strain.
"[The Kids Helpline] is somewhere to call when no-one else is responding, for many people it's the last resort," he said.
"What happens to those kids? For those that are answered, what happens when they hang up, have they been given good strategies, are they satisfied with the advice, do results come from taking that advice?
"These helplines are triage, to filter the ones who need intense and immediate care from those who do not need such extreme attention."
Professor Perkins also pointed out that the statistics may be misleading on their own. The increased call traffic could be a result of increased persistence on the behalf of the caller.
"One possibility is that they've rung, had no answer and then two hours later they've called back and been picked up," Professor Perkins said.
"We can't assume that each call is one person only ringing once."
But, should this be the case, given that fewer than half of the calls were answered there is scope for the problem to be compounded.
"It's certainly not helpful if you called again and it's not picked up again," Professor Perkins said.
"Given that, we need to look at different ways of making the service work. Could they email, SMS or leave a message? Would that be appropriate in the situation? Kids communicate in a lot of different ways now."
The shortfall has been blamed on a lack of funding causing staffing issues for the round-the-clock service.
Professor Perkins said this should be a wake-up call for smaller communities to begin investing in face-to-face early intervention.
"We have to ensure these kinds of problems are not being left to the last minute," he said.
"We have to encourage our kids to get help before they turn to the last resort, and that means looking at comprehensive services that work online, in schools, [and] in person."
Siting the state and federal government's funding support for increased psychology in schools, and the establishment of more programs through Head Space and Reach Out, Professor Perkins indicated that the shortfall in one service should not spark immediate despair.
"Holistic care is always more effective than an over-the-phone session with someone who has never met you, doesn't know you or your school or your family," he said.
"Mental and physical health services need to work together. It's fundamental that vulnerable kids get the help that is tailored to them individually as young people.
"Rural and remote communities are understanding that, and with help can make a difference."
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