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25% rise in kids calling Childline for counselling during lockdown in Northern Ireland

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Concerned: Childine’s Mairead Monds

Concerned: Childine’s Mairead Monds

Concerned: Childine’s Mairead Monds

More than 370 children in Northern Ireland with mental health concerns reached out for help during lockdown.

Childline reported an increase of more than 25% in kids getting in touch about their mental health and emotional wellbeing.

The charity said it had delivered 373 counselling sessions with local children since the beginning of lockdown.

Childline is growing increasingly concerned that children are the hidden victims of the crisis.

The charity provides a vital lifeline for youngsters, for whom mental health is among the primary concerns.

Throughout the pandemic, young people have told counsellors they are feeling low, unhappy and overwhelmed.

More recently they talked about the anxiety they were feeling as society begins to emerge from lockdown.

Some children talked to Childline about family relationships, telling counsellors that arguments, increased parental stress levels and abusive home environments were having a negative impact on their mental health.

The number of counselling sessions where children mentioned worries about the world more than doubled compared to before the introduction of restrictions, and the easing of lockdown increased anxiety levels for some young people.

Young people also shared concerns about returning to school, catching the virus, classwork, exams and the future of school life.

The NSPCC, which runs the Childline service, called on the Executive to ensure that its coronavirus recovery plan prioritised the needs of youngsters.

Mairead Monds, head of Childline Belfast, said: "There is no doubt that the coronavirus pandemic has had a direct impact on the mental health of many of our children and young people in Northern Ireland.

"It is vital that Childline can continue to be there to help support young people to cope with and recover from the aftermath of this crisis."

Belfast Telegraph