The NSPCC has reported a 16% increase in the number of counselling sessions the helpline has carried out on the subject of mental health problems among children aged 11 and under.
Between April and December 2020, Childline delivered 54,926 counselling sessions to children and young people. However, the helpline received an increase of 16% increase in the average number of mental health counselling sessions for children aged 11 and under and a 10% rise in counselling sessions about loneliness across all age groups.
Childline founder and president, Dame Esther Rantzen said: “With schools now shut again and children spending more time behind closed doors, it is absolutely imperative that Childline is there for them.”
“Many young people, especially those in unsafe homes, are feeling desperately anxious and depressed. School can be the only safe haven they know, and without that support they feel entirely alone. For them, Childline is literally a life-line. But the service urgently needs more volunteers to listen to and support children, and more funds to pay for their calls and on-line contacts, and for that we depend upon the generosity and compassion of the public. It is the NSPCC’s mission to make 2021 a better year for children, and with your help we can make this dream a reality.”
Childline's trained counsellors have heard first-hand about the devastating impact that the coronavirus pandemic has had on young people's mental health over the last 10 months. Children who contacted the helpline frequently reported feelings of loneliness, low mood and self-esteem, depression and anxiety.
While some children have been feeling isolated and overwhelmed due to concerns about family members catching the virus, or school closures and cancelled exams, others have felt cut off from support networks and are missing family and friends.
Neil Homer, a Childline volunteer since 2009, said: “I’ve heard first-hand the devastating impact the pandemic has had on children’s mental health and wellbeing. As children’s lives continue to be impacted by the pandemic, it is vital that myself and my fellow volunteer counsellors continue to be here to listen to children’s worries and support them.”
“However, we currently can’t answer every child so, if you can, please sign up and volunteer for Childline and help us reach every child who needs our support,” he concluded.