More young people seeking help for eating disorders

 22% rise in Childline counselling sessions about eating disorders since 2016/17 

In 2017/18 Childline carried out over 5,900 counselling sessions with young people about eating disorders.1

9 in 10 counselling sessions were with girls, including 148 sessions with girls aged 10-11. And a third of young people said they experienced a negative or distorted body image.2

The rise comes after the NSPCC's warnings about pressure on the child mental health system, and how thousands of young people are left without support.

About Are You There?

For many young people, contacting Childline is their first attempt to reach out for help. When a young person has taken such a brave step, we need to be there for them.

Last year the government proposed mental health support for children in schools. But two thirds of Childline counselling sessions took place outside school hours, showing the need for out of hours support. 

One third of Childline counselling sessions are about mental and emotional health and wellbeing issues. And this number is on the rise. We’re calling on the government to increase their funding for our Childline service to help us be there for children when they need someone to turn to.

Find out more about Are You There? and how you can help make sure we're there for every child.

"At one point I was watching and comparing myself to people who have anorexia. I have tried starving myself and exercising so that I can become skinny all over. I feel like the odd one out and that everywhere I go I am being looked at and judged."
15 year old girl who contacted Childline

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Liz Rowe, Head of Childline at NSPCC said:
“Young people tell us that they feel under pressure to look a certain way and live a certain life, and it’s worrying that we are seeing so many children contact us about eating disorders as a result, in some cases when they are still at primary school.

“It’s crucial that all those struggling with such debilitating eating problems are given all the help they need to make a full recovery so that they can go on to enjoy their childhood and teenage years to the full.”

“The starting point on that journey is to open up and talk to someone who can listen without judgement, which is why Childline is such a crucial service for these thousands of children.”

Protecting children's mental health


Childline is our free, confidential helpline for children and young people. Whenever children need us, Childline is there for them – online, on the phone, anytime.

0800 1111



  1. 1. Between 1st April 2017 and 31st March 2018 there were 5,934 Childline counselling sessions where the young person’s main concern was eating problems. A further 5,818 counselling sessions took place where eating problems were discussed as an additional concern, bringing the total number of counselling sessions where eating problems were mentioned for this year to 11,752. 

    2. Individual counselling sessions can include more than one issue or additional concern.