Under the Prime Minister’s Youth Program (PMYP), the National Youth Helpline with a toll-free number 0800-69457 was launched at Higher Education Commission (HEC) Secretariat to provide psychosocial support and counseling to young people.

The helpline will provide a secure and confidential gateway to access information about problems linked to adolescence, particularly related to counseling for psychosocial issues, career advancement and reproductive health challenges.

The initiative is a collaborative effort taken under the Prime Minister’s Youth Program, wherein HEC, United Nations Family Planning Association (UNFPA), and Rahnuma -Family Planning Association of Pakistan (FPAP) have partnered to extend psychosocial support to the youth facing multifarious challenges with regard to mental health.

Executive Director HEC Dr Shaista Sohail, Additional Secretary (Prime Minister’s Youth Program) Dr Muhammad Ali, and Deputy Representative, UNFPA, Ms Latika Maskey Pradhan formally inaugurated the National Youth Helpline. Adviser (Global Engagement), HEC, Mr Awais Ahmed, Director General (Scholarships) Ms Aayesha Ikram, Director General (Quality Assurance) Mr. Nasir Shah and other officials of the partnering organizations graced the launch ceremony with their presence.

In her remarks, Dr Shaista Sohail said that Pakistan’s population consists of 64 percent of youth who need guidance and support for their mental and psychological health amidst challenges like the recent devastation of floods. She termed the launch an important step taken at the right time as the youth need able guidance and viable solution to their issues. She apprised the audience that this helpline will offer services in two shifts to ensure maximum assistance around the clock.

Addressing the ceremony Ms Latika Pradhan said that the youth, despite having strong connectivity tools and means, face psychosocial and mental issues including gender-based violence. She maintained that adolescence is an important period of life when the youth have to make choices for their entire life. This is the time they need support the most, she underlined.

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Arshad Yousafzai is a Karachi-based journalist covering Education and Human Rights. He can be reached on Twitter @Arshadyousafzay

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