Dr. Avanthika Chaithanya, a young doctor and to-be pediatrician from Bangalore, has recently launched a free support helpline specifically for children and adolescents, called “The Safe Space”. The helpline, available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, provides a safe and confidential environment for children and teenagers to talk about their problems and express their feelings without judgment or criticism. It is available for free to all children across the globe and is operated on the Discord platform.
Dr. Avanthika founded this organization in response to an increasing need for support services for children. The “Safe Space” helpline is staffed by trained and experienced volunteers who are sensitive to the needs of children and have knowledge and understanding of the difficulties faced by young teenagers. The volunteers are medical students or doctors who are located across the globe, which helps in covering any time zone or language barrier issues.
According to Dr. Avanthika, the helpline was created in response to the increasing number of children who are struggling with anxiety, depression, internet bullying, and other mental health challenges, which rose to higher levels during the COVID-19 pandemic and lockdowns. “We believe that every child deserves to be happy and healthy both physically and mentally and that they should never feel alone or afraid no matter where they are in the world,” said Dr. Avanthika. “This helpline is an important step towards creating a brighter future for our children, and we are proud to be able to offer it to them.” She draws inspiration from her father (who is also a pediatrician), and her grandfather who established a non-profit organization to help underprivileged children with free housing and educational opportunities.
Children and adolescents can call the helpline at any time, day or night, and speak or chat with a trained volunteer who will listen to their concerns and offer guidance and support. The organization also provides resources and information on a range of topics, from panic attacks and bullying to relationships and peer pressure. Anonymity on both ends is guaranteed, as the platform of the helpline does not reveal any personal details, which helps the child or teenager to open up more easily to the volunteer supporter.
The response to the helpline has been overwhelmingly positive, with many children reporting that it has made a significant difference to their mental health. “I was feeling really down while studying and didn’t know where to turn,” said one young teen. “But when I spoke to a supporter on The Safe Space, it made me feel so much better. I’m grateful to the organization for providing this free helpline.”
The Safe Space helpline is open to any child from any background, no matter what kind of issues they may be facing. The volunteers on the helpline provide support to children without any form of judgment or criticism. The organization believes that providing children with a safe and supportive environment to talk about their issues is essential to improve mental health care for children. Dr. Avanthika also hopes that by providing this free support line, it will help children to feel less alone in their struggles, and encourage them to open up and ask for help. With her continued commitment to ensuring health equity and the well-being of children, it is clear that the future is bright for this young, to-be pediatrician.