OPINION: “I don’t believe that numbers suggest that boys have less mental health issues than girls”

By Jason He

This opinion piece is part of a series written by our #Youth members, for our Voices of Children & Young People Around the World report.

 

From the Global Voices Data report, the numbers and reason for contacting a child helpline by genders was particularly interesting to me. More specifically the gender distribution of the calls on the topic of mental health. Calls about mental health accounted for over a quarter (26.5%), which is the highest of all the reasons/topics for children to contact a child helpline around the world. Overall the majority of counseling calls were made by girls at 46% with the boys at 39% and the rest being unknown or non-binary.  

What stood out to me the most was gender distribution in the reasons for contact. Girls accounted for the majority of the contacts in 4 of the top 5 reasons for contacting a child helpline (Mental health, violence, family and peer relationships). For mental health, girls account for over double the number of contacts compared to boys. This massive gender difference is further highlighted in the sub categories of mental health. Girls again account for over double the number of contacts compared to boys in the seven of the ten mental health sub categories.  

Why is there such a big difference in gender distribution in the reason for contacting a child helpline? Is this a true reflection of the reality of mental health issues for boys and girls? For me personally I don’t believe that numbers suggest that boys have less mental health issues than girls. For a child to reach out during a difficult time in their lives and contact a child helpline is already very difficult but it may be even harder for boys in some cultures. Having mental health issues may be seen as weak and not accepted for a maleChild helplines should be aware of their local culture and make getting help more acceptable and accessible for everyone. 

 

Jason He is a member of Child Helpline International’s #Youth advisory council.