Mental health problems most common reason to contact ChildLine

1 in 3 ChildLine counselling sessions featured a mental health concern last year

Girl looking down

Mental health concern featured in 1 in 3 ChildLine counselling sessions last year (1 April 2015- 31 March 2016), with 3 out of the top 5 reasons for children contacting the helpline now relating to this problem.

There were 92,891 ChildLine counselling sessions about mental health related concerns last year, with 5,644 cases also involving abuse or neglect.

Low self-esteem was the top concern and was also the issue with one of the biggest increases since 2014/15, rising by 19% to over 42,000 counselling sessions. Suicide concerns have also increased by 10% when compared to 14/15.

The figures were revealed in The Observer on Sunday, ahead of Mental Health Awareness Week.

Mental health sats


"I used to go onto a lot of social media sites and socialise, but now that I don’t have access I feel really cut-off and isolated. I don’t really have many friends in real-life and spend a lot of time in my bedroom on my laptop. I don’t have much confidence in myself and I feel as if my life is really depressing. "
Boy, 14

Despite the apparent rise in mental health problems among children this is not being matched by support services on the ground. Many children, including those who have been abused, are waiting up to six months for a face-to-face assessment by specialist local mental health services.

Peter Wanless, CEO of NSPCC

Peter Wanless, NSPCC Chief Executive, said:
"In 1986 when ChildLine was set up children were mainly contacting the round the clock service about pregnancy, bullying and physical and sexual abuse. But today we are seeing a huge increase in loneliness, suicidal thoughts and self-harm, problems which did not feature in calls ChildLine received 30 years ago. It is clear from these ChildLine statistics that the pressure to keep up with friends and have the perfect life online is adding to the sadness that many young people feel on a daily basis.

"Thousands of children who contact ChildLine about mental health problems are suffering the effects of abuse or neglect. More and more victims are speaking out but if these children then don't receive the right kind of help and support the damage can last a lifetime and include post-traumatic stress disorder, depression or suicidal thoughts in adulthood.

"It shames our nation that children who have suffered abuse languish for months and even years without support. It's Time to ensure that they get the help they need to recover."

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