Last year more than 50,000 children and young people were counselled by the NSPCC’s Childline service for serious mental health worries. It’s a shocking statistic in itself but even more disturbing when you realise that’s an average of one young person calling the helpline every 11 minutes.
More than a third of the counselling sessions about serious mental health issues were with 12-15 year olds.
The figures, released to coincide with Children’s Mental Health Week, highlight how young people are increasingly wrestling with a range of problems that include depressive disorders, self-harm and suicidal feelings. They also raise further concerns about the level of mental health care available to children and young people desperate for professional support and treatment. To help address this issue, the NSPCC’s ‘It’s Time’ campaign is pushing the government to ensure that young victims of abuse and neglect are given access to the right mental health support in a timely manner to aid their recovery.
Early signs of a serious mental health problem in children and young people include becoming withdrawn from friends and family, tearfulness and irritability, sudden outbursts of anger directed at themselves or others and problems eating or sleeping. If your child is struggling with their mental health the first step is to talk to them and really listen to how they’re feeling. If they are reluctant to open up to you then tell them about Childline. They can speak to a trained counsellor 24/7 in confidence by calling 0800 1111 or they can have an online chat with a counsellor via the website www.childline.org.uk
Should you feel they require medical support then please take your child to your family GP who will decide if and what professional treatment is required.
NSPCC Regional Head of Service, London & South East
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