07 Dec 2018
The pressures of modern-day life are leaving some children and teenagers feeling overwhelmed and leading to a sharp rise in the number seeking help for anxiety.
In 2017/18 Childline, which today launched its annual review ‘The Courage to Talk’, delivered 21,297 counselling sessions to young people from across the UK trying to deal with feelings of anxiety – almost double that of two years ago.1
In Scotland, volunteers at the Aberdeen Childline base dealt with 1,120 contacts from young people from across the UK over anxiety in 2017/2018 compared with 552 the previous year. The Glasgow base also saw a significant increase with 3,330 contacts relating to anxiety compared with 2,367 the previous year.
There was also a rise in the number of counselling sessions provided to children living in Scotland who contacted Childline about anxiety. In 2017/18 971 counselling sessions were given to young people in Scotland, up from 715 in 2016/17 and 651 the previous year.
Across the UK at least 88 percent2 of the support provided by Childline for this issue was given to girls, reinforcing how they are struggling to cope with growing up.3
Children and teenagers cite a range of reasons why they may be feeling anxious including bullying and cyber-bullying, eating problems, relationship problems and issues at school with homework and exams.
Some also experienced anxiety alongside other mental health issues such as depression and obsessive compulsive disorder, while others reported having suffered abuse, neglect or bereavement.
‘The Courage to Talk’ details how in 2017/18 Childline delivered 106,037 counselling sessions to young people experiencing problems with their mental and emotional health and wellbeing.
This is a 5% increase on the previous year and more than a third of the total number of counselling sessions provided online and over the phone.
One girl aged 12-15 who contacted Childline said:
“I have anxiety and get really bad panic attacks. I've never known how I could tell anybody about what I'm feeling so nobody else knows. I've tried to explain it a little bit to my mum, but she thought I was just stressed out about exams and I felt like she didn't understand.
“Lately everything seems to make me nervous and worried and it's all getting really hard to cope with. I want help from somewhere but I don't know how to get it.”
Esther Rantzen, Childline Founder and President, 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.
“Fortunately Childline is here to comfort and support them. But we must ask why for some young people is the world becoming such a difficult place? Unless we find effective answers to this question we know the anxieties they suffer from can get worse, leading to suicidal thoughts or chronic mental health problems as they get older.”
Jayne Laidlaw, Childline manager for the Glasgow base added: “Anxiety can be crippling 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.”