The World Health Organisation (2012) outlines that youth friendly health services must meet a set of criteria, including being accessible and at locations and hours of easy access to teenagers; meeting the expectations and needs of young people in order to motivate their demand; promoting access equity and equality.
The guidelines of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe for the Development of Child friendly Health Services underline that the fundamental principles that should characterize "Child Friendly" (up to 16 years old) health services include the following:
1. Respect for fundamental human rights and the specific rights of the child.
4. Equal access to quality health services
5.The best interests of the child.
Following these guidelines, various counselling services which operate under the supervision of the Youth Board of Cyprus are provided to help young people receive responsible answers on issues that concern their daily life, but also on more complex issues such as addictive substances, sexuality issues, eating disorders and more. These are services that are based on the principles of being free of charge, anonymous and confidential as a way of making the services more attractive to young people. E-counselling goes under the umbrella of these services, too. The counsellors of the E-Counselling are trained - as outlined in the official website - to handle all the cases with professionalism, regardless of gender, origin, ethnicity, age or sexuality orientation, similarly as the 1410 Help Line. The conversation with the counsellor through the software is confidential and no one else is allowed access other than the consulted individual.
On the issue of cyber-bullying, a helpline and a hotline are also provided through the Cyprus Safer Internet Centre. The helpline 1480 (Γραμμή Βοήθειας Helpline 1480) and hotline 1480 (Γραμμή Καταγγελιών Hotline 1480) operate within the framework of the European project “CyberSafety II – Better Internet for Kids in Cyprus” (CyberSafety II- Ένα καλύτερο Διαδίκτυο για τα παιδιά στην Κύπρο) for the years 2019-2021, aiming to ensure that all users can receive expert advice and support from qualified operators, in real time, on topics related to the use of the internet and digital technologies as well as offer a direct, easily accessible and responsible point of contact for users to report illegal content or actions on the internet. The CyberSafety II project succeeds the previous European project CyberSafety I that was successfully implemented between 2016-2018.
The helpline services are intended for children, adolescents, parents, teachers, and other professionals, providing advice and support on issues related to the safe, responsible and ethical use of the internet and other digital media. The helpline operators provide, among other aspects, advice and support on issues such as cyberbullying, excessive use of the Internet, data privacy, social media problems (e.g. fake profiles, account violations, inappropriate and harmful content), sexting. The hotline services address the same target groups and handle public information related to content of child sexual abuse (e.g., photos), racist and xenophobic material that violates the law as well as anything that is considered illegal. The relevant services are provided on the basis of the guidelines and legislations of the national law and follow the “INHOPE – Association of Internet Hotline Providers Code of Practice”, a public document with guidelines, rules, regulations and technical specifications for the proper operation of hotlines whose work is to eradicate illegal content on the Internet. Both services are based on the principles of free-of-charge provision, anonymity, and confidentiality to make the services more attractive to young people. Communication with relevant bodies in Cyprus, such as the Cyber Crime Unit, the Digital Security Authority is being established to ensure the right procedures. To monitor the operation of the helpline 1480, quarterly statistics (Στατιστικά Στοιχεία Γραμμής Βοήθειας Helpline 1480) are published on the project website.
At the same time on the basis of youth participation for creating a more youth friendly environment for tackling internet safety issues, “CYberSafety Youth Panel” (Ομάδα Νέων) is a new initiative by the CyberSafety II project, which encourages children and young people from different demographic groups in Cyprus in an interactive participation and active contribution on the creative and responsible use of the internet. Computer Science university students act as mentors for the younger ones by providing a role model, while members of the Cyprus Children's Parliament, the Commissioner for Children's Rights Young Advisors and the Young Coaches for the Internet are part of the Youth Panel. The activities in which the Youth Panel is involved are being monitored through its annual action plans. The latest one available is for the school year 2018/19 (Σχέδιο δράσης Ομάδας Νέων για τη σχολική χρονιά 2018-2019).
“School-based health services” supervised by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sport and Youth, which are intended to offer health services within the school environment (for more information, read section 7.6), as well as other services offered by the Ministry of Health which provide guidance and services inside the home/family environment, are services which help to promote a youth friendly healthcare for Cyprus’ youth.
In addition, the newly established National Health Insurance Scheme (GESY) is an E-health services system, which makes the provision of health facilities more youth-friendly. The first stage of GESY implementation, which began in June 2019, provides for the introduction of outpatient healthcare, i.e., the provision of healthcare services by personal doctors and outpatient specialists, pharmacists, and laboratories. The second stage, which began in 2020, includes the introduction of all the remaining healthcare services, i.e., inpatient healthcare and services, services offered by allied health professionals, nurses and midwifes, the accident and emergency departments, ambulance services, dentists, palliative healthcare services and medical rehabilitation services. The electronic platform of GESY allows its users to register in the system and have access to their digitised health records as well as search for medical providers around Cyprus in the relevant database of providers.