There has been a sharp increase in the number of children reporting anxiety to Childline, new figures from the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) have revealed.
In 2015/16, Childline provided 11,706 counselling sessions to children and young people who reported anxious feelings, an average of 976 per month. This equates to an increase of 35% from 2014/15, rising from 8642 counselling sessions. According to Childline, children as young as eight reported dealing with anxiety. Additionally, girls were seven times more likely to contact the service over anxiety than boys.
‘We know from our research that young people face a huge range of pressures, including stress at school, body image issues, bullying, and uncertain job prospects,’ said Nick Harrop, media and campaigns manager at YoungMinds. ‘Difficult experiences in childhood – including bereavement, domestic violence or abuse – can also have a serious impact on mental health, often several years down the line. Today’s worrying figures reveal that recent world events are also causing children anxiety about the future.’
Reported reasons for anxiety varied from personal and family issues to concerns about world affairs such as the EU Referendum, the US Election and troubles in the Middle East. Most cases are down to a combination of personal and political troubles. Some young people discussed problems in their day-to-day life with councilors, while others cited disturbing experiences seen in the media and social media as being the source of their anxiety.
‘We know children and young people are sometimes frightened and distressed by events in the wider world,’ said Esther Rantzen, president of Childline. ’Seeing pictures of crying and bewildered toddlers being pulled from bomb-damaged homes upsets all of us. Often we fail to notice the impact these stories are having on young people.’