Sharp rise in children and young people seeking help for anxiety

The NSPCC is working hard to support children and young people nationally and within the SW as increasing numbers of youngsters are struggling with anxiety, especially girls.

The LEA breakdown of schools visited with the NSPCC’s Speak Out Stay Safe programme, shows the total number of children reached in 2017/18 in Cornwall alone.

Local Education Authority Total schools visited in the academic year 2017/18 Total children reached in the academic year 2017/18
Cornwall 68 12,189

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 trying to deal with feelings of anxiety – almost double that of two years ago.

At least 88 percent of the support provided by Childline for this issue was given to girls, reinforcing how they are struggling to cope with growing up in the UK.

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.

Children in Cornwall learn the importance of speaking out about their concerns, whatever they may be, through the NSPCC’s Speak Out Stay Safe programme.

The programme teaches primary school children about the different kinds of abuse, but also helps them identify trusted adults they can speak to about any worries they may have.

During the last academic year more than 12,000 primary school children in Cornwall learnt about Childline, thanks to the NSPCC’s Schools Service, and the 0800 1111 number to ring should they need help or advice at any time of the day or night.

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.”

The figures reveal the increasingly important role Childline is playing in the child mental health landscape, with less than a third of young people referred to CAMHS receiving treatment within 12 months.

The Government recently announced a raft of proposals to tackle the problem with the focus being on school-based support for young people.

However, these are being rolled-out gradually and will cover only a quarter of the country by 2022/23, meaning most children and teenagers will feel no impact from the reforms.

As a result, free and confidential services like Childline will continue to be a lifeline to the thousands of young people who simply can’t access NHS or school-based mental health support.

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.”

Peter Wanless, NSPCC CEO, 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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