In Brief

Why are so many young people suffering from anxiety?

Childline says number of youngsters seeking help for stress has soared

Mental health

The number of young people calling Childline to get counselling for anxiety-related issues has almost doubled in two years, according to the children’s support service.

Data released by the charity - run by the National Society for the Provention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) - shows that its staff delivered around 21,300 advice sessions to young people suffering from anxiety in 2017-18, up from 11,700 in 2015-16, The Guardian reports. Nine out of ten calls came from girls.

“Callers gave a variety of reasons for their anxiety, including bullying and cyberbullying, eating problems, relationship issues and school pressures such as homework and exams,” says the newspaper.

Some callers reported abuse, neglect and bereavement.

The release of the Childline data comes less than a month after the NHS revealed that as many as one in eight young people in England is living with a mental health issue such as depression, anxiety and behavioural or hyperactive disorders that have a significant impact on their day-to-day lives.

Yet “less than a third of young people referred to child and adolescent mental health services received treatment within 12 months”, according to The Independent.

NSPCC chief executive 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.”

Calling for more support for youngsters, Childline founder Esther Rantzen added: “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.”

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson insisted that “supporting the mental health of our children and young people is a key priority for this government”, with mental health services receiving £1.05bn in funding last year.

But according to The Independent, the government scheme to tackle the issue, which focuses on school-based support for young people, “is 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”.

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