Belfast Telegraph

50,000 young sought help with mental health issues

By Jane Kirby

More than 50,000 children and young people turned to Childline last year because of serious mental health problems, figures show.

New data from the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) shows one in six Childline counselling sessions are now about serious mental health issues.

Some 50,819 children and young people in 2015/16 received counselling for a serious mental health issue, a rise of 8% over the past four years. Those aged 12 to 15 made up a third of all the sessions, with girls almost seven times more likely to seek help than boys. Childline saw a 36% rise over four years in youngsters needing help for depression and other disorders, while there was also an increase in the number of children and young people feeling suicidal.

One 16-year-old girl told Childline: "I want to know what's wrong with me. I have been seeing a counsellor about my mental health issues recently but they just told me to eat and sleep better and forget about the past, which didn't help me at all. I wish I could speak to someone who actually cared about me and I felt comfortable talking to."

Childline said early signs of a serious mental health problem in children and young people include becoming withdrawn from friends and family, being tearful or irritable, sudden outbursts, and problems eating or sleeping.

The figures were released at the start of Children's Mental Health Week.

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