Mental Health is a serious subject in Ireland regarding to the recent data which shows the suicide rate increase in Ireland. Thus, some charities try to fight for this cause such as Childline, as a service dedicated to young people which provide a 24 hour listening service. Thus, the children can decide which medium of telecommunications they want to use to talk to someone.
Most of the Irish people know about Childline but not about its “big sister”. In fact, since 2006, a similar service exists for young adult: TeenLine Ireland. Everything starts because of the suicide of Darren Bolger aged of 16 years in 2003. After his death, his mother was shocked to discover the lack of service available specifically for teenagers in Ireland who may be contemplating suicide or going through difficult times and need someone to talk to. They provide a helpline if someone needs to talk, they are here to listen. Their goal is to help by improving the social and emotional health and wellbeing of all young people by providing them with a friendly, confidential, non-judgemental helpline and support service.
[Video Credit : TeenLine Ireland Youtube channel]
I had the chance to meet Michelle O’Connor, one of the members of TeenLine as an event manager, who told us more about the charity and how they are working :
Why did you choose TeenLine to do your internship with?
“I am studying event management and decided to do my Internship with TeenLine as they are a national charity with a wide range of events every year. I knew it would be a great opportunity to work on different projects and meet a number of people in the event industry.”
Can you talk to us about the Story of TeenLine?
“ TeenLine was founded in 2006 by Maureen Bolger, who sadly lost her teenager son to suicide. After speaking to his friends and other young people she realised there was no helpline for young people. Most Teenagers feel too old to call Childline and too young for Samaritans. Therefore, she decided to start up TeenLine Ireland. Each year the charity has continued to grow and the number of calls and texts increases. In 2016, we received over 25’000 calls and 26’000 text messages. This highlights the high demand for such a service in Ireland.”
How Many people are in the team? What are the different possible jobs?
“Everyone in TeenLine is a volunteer but we all have different roles. There are the helpline volunteers who only come in at night to man the helpline. There are the office volunteers like me who take care of the administration, accounts and the events. We also have the volunteers who do the talks for TeenLine, however they rarely come into the office. I think in total there is approximately 50 volunteers involved with TeenLine. However this number is always changing as people leave and new people join the team.”
Do you have any help except from the donations?
“No unfortunately, we do not receive any funding from the government therefore have to rely on donations and fundraisers. This can be quite challenging as we constantly need to keep an eye on the expenses. TeenLine’s biggest expenses are the rent for the call centre and office and the free wristbands we hand out to everyone at events and talks. These are important as they have our phone number on them. TeenLine is the only charity that does not charge for the wristbands.”
What are your different missions?
“TeenLine’s helpline is open every night of the year from 8pm till 11pm. All the volunteers on the line are trained to answer the calls. we also have trained volunteers to give talks in schools and youth organisations all around Ireland. Since starting, we have visited over 100 schools throughout the country. TeenLine is often invited to hold information stands at a verity of Mental Health events, this helps raise awareness about the charity. From these events we often get invited to schools to talk about the helpline and mental health. TeenLine does not receive any government funding therefore relies completely on fundraisers and donations. We are currently organising a number of big scale fundraising events.”
What is your average day like?
“Most days I will be in the office answering emails and taking school bookings. I also work on upcoming TeenLine events. I sometimes get to travel around Ireland to attend events and represent TeenLine.”
If like Michelle you want to be a part of this beautiful cause, do not hesitate to contact them!