young mental healthThere has been a sharp rise in the number of children and young people experiencing anxiety in the past year, new figures from Childline have revealed.

Childline’s figures show a rise of 35% in Childline counselling sessions about anxiety in the last year, with almost 6,500 Childline counselling sessions in the past 6 months. Anxiety is a feature with children as young as 8, with girls 7 times more likely to contact than boys.

Research indicates the reasons for the sharp rise are down to a combination of personal and political issues, with some young people talking to counsellors about problems in their day-to-day life while others cite disturbing events seen in the media and social media as being the source of their worries. The EU Referendum, the US Election and troubles in the Middle East were all cited as causes.

For example, one teenage girl who contacted Childline said: “Things like the EU referendum and the US election make me worry about my future and how things are going to change. I feel really sorry for the refugees because it isn’t their fault that their country is at war." 

A young boy who contacted Childline said: "I’m really worried about what is going on in the world. People have talked about a world war starting and I get really scared thinking about this." 

Dame Esther Rantzen, president of Childline said: "At Childline we know children and young people are sometimes frightened and distressed by events in the wider world.

"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. The good news is that so many children are able to express their anxiety to Childline, knowing that we will take them seriously, so that we are able to reassure them.

"Childline will always be there for any problem, just as we have been for 30 years, as we tell the children 'if it matters to you, it matters to us'."