Digicel lauds impact of national child and teen helpline | Loop Jamaica

The content originally appeared on: Jamaica News | Loop News

With over 2,000 children reaching out to SafeSpot which is Jamaica’s national child and teen helpline for counselling and support within its first year, Digicel is hailing the initiative as a major step towards giving the nation’s children a lifeline and making them feel safer and more secure. Launched in May 2021 SafeSpot, a 24-hour national helpline for children in Jamaica was developed to help connect youngsters whose mental, emotional and social wellbeing were being negatively impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Since then, SafeSpot has not only dealt with children impacted by the pandemic but children who are impacted by a full range of issues.

In support of this initiative of the Office of the Children’s Advocate (OCA), Digicel gives all callers 24/7 toll-free access from any phone number in Jamaica. To date, 2,330 children have accessed the service. They can also reach a counsellor via the BiP advanced messaging app, WhatsApp or the OCA’s social media pages using the handle @safespotja, or its website www.safespotja.com.

Public Relations and Communications Manager for Digicel, Elon Parkinson, noted that the Child Month 2022 theme of “Listen Up, Children’s Voices Matter” is as timely and impactful as the helpline that continues to assist many children to overcome their fears and anxieties, especially during these times of uncertainty.

He commented, “Providing a safe space for our nation’s children to express themselves in a confidential environment, can, for some young people, be a life-saving experience, while for others it’s simply about being heard. This is why an important mission of SafeSpot to ensure that every call is answered.”

Studies have shown that there is growing evidence of the impact of the pandemic on young people’s mental health and that demand for support through hubs like SafeSpot is growing.

Further to Digicel’s pledge to support the initiative, the digital operator launched the SafeSpot channel on the BiP messaging app to provide another avenue for children to chat confidentially with a live SafeSpot counsellor.

“The Office of the Children’s Advocate is very encouraged by the achievements of SafeSpot in just one year. Our numbers are growing, we have gained international certification and SafeSpot is now a member of Child Helpline International and thus is recognised in approximately 147 countries and perhaps most rewarding, are the children who come back to say thanks for having helped them through their challenges. These are big wins and we commit to keep on providing children with an avenue through which to have their voices heard and responded to,” commented Diahann Gordon Harrison, Children’s Advocate.

Parkinson concluded, “We commend the OCA on their efforts to protect every child, and for fostering this partnership that will enable and empower our nation’s children to truly realise their full potential. This is part of what being ‘Made in Jamaica’ means to us.”

The BiP app is available from Google Play or App Store. To connect with a SafeSpot counsellor on the app, users can then subscribe to the SafeSpot BiP Channel on the Discover page. SafeSpot counsellors can also be reached by calling 888-SAFE-SPOT (888-723-3776) or by free BiP-text messaging at 876-439-5199, WhatsApp, Instagram and Snapchat.