Sharp rise in number of young people seeking help for anxietyIvy Madziva
Majority of Childline sessions provided to girls with helpline’s founder saying system is ‘failing them’
Children have been struggling to cope with the demands of modern life such as cyberbullying, eating problems and school pressures, says Childline. Photograph: Ben Birchall/PA
A children’s helpline says the number of counselling sessions it has delivered to youngsters with anxiety has almost doubled in two years, with nine out of 10 calls from girls.
According to Childline, which is supported by the NSPCC children’s charity, there has been a sharp rise in the number of young people seeking help because of anxiety as they struggle to cope with the demands of modern life.
The NSPCC said Childline counsellors delivered 11,700 sessions to children and teenagers complaining of anxiety in 2015-6. That number rose to 21,300 in 2017-18. At least 88% of the support they provided was for girls.
Callers gave a variety of reasons for their anxiety including bullying and cyber-bullying, eating problems, relationship issues and school pressures such as homework and exams. Others reported abuse, neglect and bereavement.
The NSPCC said the figures demonstrated the increasingly important role Childline was playing in the child mental health landscape. Young people who were referred to children and adolescent mental health services could face long delays and government proposals to boost support in schools were being rolled out gradually.
The charity also reiterated now familiar concerns about girls’ mental health. According to the latest figures from Childline, about 17,400 counselling sessions were delivered to girls suffering from anxiety, and 2,300 to boys. In a further 1,600 cases gender was undocumented.
Childline’s founder, Esther Rantzen, said: “I am increasingly concerned at the huge rise in anxiety affecting our young people. It seems that the support they desperately need from family, friends, their schools or mental health professionals is either not there when they need it, or is failing them.”
Peter Wanless, NSPCC’s chief executive, added: “Anxiety can be a crippling illness and it is deeply worrying that the number of counselling sessions we are delivering for this issue is rising so quickly.
“Increasingly Childline is filling the gap left by our public mental health services, providing young people with a place they can go for round-the-clock help and advice.”
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