ONE fifth of phone calls to the Student Support hotline in 2015 related to incidents of bullying at school, Education Minister Costas Kadis said on Friday.
At a news conference, Kadis announced the expansion of the hotline, on toll-free number 1410, to include not just school matters but also peripheral ones.
He added that teenagers and young people can speak with psychologists on bullying issues, as well as their daily lives.
Such matters, Kadis said, could include violence in the family, same-sex or inter-sex relationships, sexual relationships in puberty, failure in school, abandonment, delinquency, substance abuse, racism, lack of communication with parents and teachers, and other behavioural or psychological issues.
The education minister noted that students can receive immediate support on their issues through the hotline, with suggestions on how to deal with them.
In addition to students, the support hotline also targets individuals directly connected with them, who might wish to support them in issues they are facing, like parents, siblings, and teachers.
The Cyprus Youth Organisation’s head, Panayiotis Sentonas, said the hotline is the only service in Cyprus that covers a broad spectrum of psycho-social issues relating to young people, as well as those interested in young people’s wellbeing.
He added that over 1,000 people made use of the hotline in 2015.
“This is an especially important day, because it signals the start of a joint effort by the Cyprus Youth Organisation and the education ministry to coordinate our efforts to support students and youth on issues troubling them,” Sentonas said.
Addressing the event, the education ministry’s Elli Eliades said the hotline’s “direct and supportive response to students’ problems, covering both their educational and psycho-social needs, renders it very important in the field of prevention”.
“The hotline’s psychologists are obliged to adhere to the principles of discretion, confidentiality, and anonymity, included in the Professional Code of Conduct of Psychologists, while they work in close cooperation with an educational psychologist of the Education ministry,” she said.
The 1410 hotline receives calls from 10am to 11pm, Monday through Friday, and 3pm to 11pm on weekends.