Children have told of feeling anxious and lonely amid the coronavirus lockdown, a charity has said.
Childline said it has experienced an “unprecedented demand” for its services as the Covid-19 pandemic continues to have a dramatic affect on lives.
Most of the young people Childline has been supporting on the impact of coronavirus are girls aged 12-15.
Northern Ireland’s two bases at Belfast and Foyle held 101 counselling sessions with children and young people concerned about the global pandemic between January 21 and March 22.
Demand hit a peak on March 18 – the same day Prime Minister Boris Johnson confirmed UK schools would shut – with Childline delivering 121 counselling sessions across the UK on the issue in just one day.
Over half of young people across the UK who spoke to Childline last week about coronavirus spoke about struggling to cope with issues like isolation, arguments at home and the removal of professional support from schools and the NHS.
One teenage girl told a counsellor how she felt “anxious, upset and lonely”.
Other issues raised have included school work and family relationships, as children sense the seriousness of the situation through their parent’s reactions.
Childline staff and volunteers are working to maintain the service despite losing some personnel who have been told to self-isolate.
Mairead Monds, Childline service manager for Belfast, said staff are working tirelessly to keep the service going.
“The 24/7 news cycle about coronavirus is causing huge worry and anxiety in young people – particularly those who are already coping with many other issues in their lives,” she said.
“Childline provides an essential service to vulnerable children, some of whom may be in a life-threatening situation, which is why our staff and volunteers are working tirelessly to keep Childline running.
“While we are all facing events unprecedented in modern time keeping children safe and providing them with a space to talk about their concerns is our number one priority.”