Childline a lifeline for young people struggling with anxiety

Childline annual review shows anxiety counselling sessions have almost doubled in 2 years

More young people are seeking help for anxiety after feeling overwhelmed by the pressures of modern life. Childline, which launched its annual review 'The Courage to Talk' today, is increasingly the place they turn for support.

In 2017/18 Childline delivered 21,297 counselling sessions to young people trying to cope with feelings of anxiety – almost twice as many as 2 years ago1. At least 88% of counselling sessions where the gender was known were with girls2.

Young people gave several reasons why they were feeling anxious, including bullying and cyberbullying, eating and relationship problems and problems at school with homework and exams. 

Some also experienced anxiety alongside other mental health issues like depression and obsessive compulsive disorder, while others reported suffering abuse, neglect or loss. 

Childline fills gap in children's mental health care

Childline's annual review, 'The Courage to Talk', shows Childline delivered 106,037 counselling sessions in 2017/18 to young people experiencing problems with their mental and emotional health and wellbeing. 

This is a 5% increase on the previous year and almost 2 in 5 of the total number of counselling sessions provided online and over the phone.

The figures show the increasingly important role of  Childline in supporting young people's mental health, with less than a third of young people referred to Child and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS) receiving treatment within 12 months3.

The Government recently announced proposals to tackle the problem and provide school-based support for young people. But these will be rolled out gradually and only cover a quarter of the country by 2022/23. 

Meanwhile free and confidential servies like Childline will continue to be a lifeline for thousands of young people who can't access mental health support on the NHS or at school.

"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. "
Girl, aged 12-15, who contacted Childline

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NSPCC CEO, Peter Wanless said:

“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.”



Names and identifying features have been changed to protect identity. Photographs have been posed by models.


  1. 1. In 2015/16 there were 11,706 counselling sessions delivering by Childline for young people suffering from anxiety. In 2017/18 this number had risen to 21,297, almost double.

    2. In 2017/18 there were 17,395 counselling sessions delivered to girls suffering from anxiety, 2,311 to boys and 1,591 where the gender was unknown. This means that 88% of counselling sessions where the gender was recorded were delivered to girls.

    3. Source is the Children’s Commissioner of England – ‘of more than 338,000 children referred to CAMHS last year, less than a third (31%) received treatment within the year’.