From NSPCC SW:
The NSPCC is warning about the devastating mental health impact of the pandemic on children as new figures reveal Childline has seen an increase in the number of counselling sessions about mental and emotional health with children aged 11 and under since lockdown measures were first introduced– with the monthly average rising by 16%.
The latest data from the NSPCC also shows that the service has now delivered a total of 54,926 counselling sessions nationally to children of all ages on this issue from April to the end of December against the backdrop of the pandemic.
The monthly average number of counselling sessions on mental health where children spoke about loneliness also rose by 10% compared to the pre-lockdown period from January to March.
Childline counselling is delivered by volunteers and in response to these latest worrying figures and with COVID restrictions continuing, the service is urgently appealing to those who can spare four hours one evening a week or at the weekend to volunteer, so Childline can be here for children when they need us the most.
With schools closed to the majority of pupils until at least mid-February and the whole of the UK in lockdown, Childline has never been more important as a source of support for young people who are struggling. Now more than ever, it is essential that children are not left isolated, alone and unsupported.
Over the past ten months, the NSPCC-run service’s trained counsellors have heard first-hand the devastating impact that the challenges posed by the coronavirus pandemic have had on young people’s mental health.
School Service Area Coordinator from South West, Colette Hudson retrained to be a Childline Counsellor during the pandemic. She said “I’ve heard from a lot of children worried about their mental health including loneliness, low mood, low self-esteem, depression and anxiety. Some have been feeling isolated and overwhelmed due to concerns about family members catching the virus, or school closures and cancelled exams – while others have felt cut off from support networks and are missing family and friends.”
“One girl aged 16 who contacted Childline said: “I feel really sad and lonely. I need to talk to someone because I don’t really have anyone right now. I am really struggling with the whole isolation thing. Most days I find myself just lost in my own thoughts and feeling numb. I am classed as a vulnerable person, so my isolation lasts for 12 weeks, which seems like a lifetime.”
Since the first lockdown last year, mental health has remained the top concern that children and young people talked to Childline about. The service has delivered between 5000 to 7000 counselling sessions every month on this issue with the numbers fluctuating throughout the year as the situation changes and COVID restrictions were lifted and re-imposed.
During the pandemic, Childline has continued to adapt to ensure it can still be here for children including developing online training so volunteers can answer emails from young people remotely. However, despite this, since last March volunteer numbers have dropped by 40%.
Volunteering for Childline is just one of the ways to help make 2021 a better year for children.
Despite, the latest national lockdown, Childline will remain open and staff and volunteers have been given key worker status to continue their vital work. Sparing a few hours, one evening a week or at the weekend volunteering at a local Childline base can help ensure Childline continues to support children who often have nowhere to turn.
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.”
But there is also a range of other ways to support the charity, NSPCC Community Fundraising Manager for Cornwall, Alison Armer is calling on the county to raise vital funds for the NSPCC.
“Fundraising is such an important part of what we do. It costs £4 to answer a call to Childline to ensure we are here when a child finally has the courage to reach out to us. So let’s take on 2021 and make it a better year for children, whether you take on a sponsored challenge, Kick the Caffeine, or fundraising in the community, every little helps.”
The NSPCC has been supported by players of People’s Postcode Lottery who provided crucial funding of £1,000,000 to Childline last year, the equivalent of running the service for an entire month.
Children can call Childline on 0800 11 11 from 7.30am to 3.30 am from Monday to Friday or 9am to 3.30am on weekends. Or they can get in touch via www.childline.org.uk