Mental health ‘top reason for children contacting Childline’


More must be done to support children’s mental health in schools, a charity has said after it emerged that mental and emotional wellbeing was the top reason for children seeking help from Childline last year.

Childline delivered 105,000 counselling sessions in 2022/23 where the child’s main concern was mental and emotional health and wellbeing.

The NSPCC, which runs the service, said 31,000 of the counselling sessions on mental health were about stress and anxiety.

More than 14,000 children were counselled about low mood and unhappiness, it added.

Some 6,397 children contacted the service to ask about accessing support and services for mental health.

The service was contacted 6,389 times from children experiencing depression and 5,109 counselling sessions focussed on loneliness.

The children’s charity said mental and emotional health and wellbeing was the top reason children contacted the service in 2022/23, accounting for over half of the counselling sessions delivered by the service.

The NSPCC is calling on the Government to commit to funding and delivering mental health support teams across all schools and colleges in order to reach every pupil and student who needs help.

The charity said the target of access for 50% of pupils by April 2025 “lacks the sense of urgency needed”.

It also called on adults to do more to support children’s wellbeing by helping them feel supported and reassured and “not judged”.

Shaun Friel, director of Childline, said: “Young people may struggle with a range of mental health issues throughout their childhood and adolescence. This can be a time of turbulence, and so it’s important that children feel supported and uplifted.

“Ensuring that young people have a network of support, whether that’s in school, with their peers, at home or through organisations such as Childline, helps young people take the first step to tackling these struggles. Childline is here for any child that may be struggling with their mental and emotional wellbeing.”

One girl, 16, told Childline: “I’m exhausted and feel like everything is falling apart. My friends are all stressed and depressed. My parents are fighting constantly with me trying to mediate. Then there’s exams as well. It’s all so stressful. I can’t remember what it’s like to be a carefree child”.

Almost 1.4 million people with suspected mental illness are still waiting to start treatment. While patients are waiting, too many will end up in A&E in crisis where they are often forced to spend days waiting for an inpatient bed

Dr Lade Smith, Royal College of Psychiatrists

A Department for Health and Social Care spokesperson said: “We’re determined to do everything we can to support children and young people with their mental health, and we’re investing an additional £2.3 billion a year into mental health services by 2024.

“This means an additional 345,000 children and young people will be able to access NHS-funded mental health support, including through the mental health support teams we are rolling out to schools and colleges across the country.

“The mental health workforce also continues to grow and, in June 2023, we saw over 10,100 more mental health staff working than the previous year.”

It comes as a small new study found that parents’ experiences of racism affect their children’s mental health.

Experts from the Centre for Mental Health and King’s College London also found that parents feel impacts on their own mental health when their children are subject to racial abuse.

Meanwhile political leaders have faced calls to prioritise mental health ahead of the next general election.

The Royal College of Psychiatrists said there is a “public mental health emergency”.

Dr Lade Smith, president of the College, said: “Almost 1.4 million people with suspected mental illness are still waiting to start treatment.

“While patients are waiting, too many will end up in A&E in crisis where they are often forced to spend days waiting for an inpatient bed.

“These delays make recovery from mental illness so much harder and cost the NHS and the economy more in the long run.

“The public mental health emergency is real. It is having a devastating effect on the lives of thousands of people, particularly children and young people.”

– Childline can be accessed via or by calling 0800 11 11.


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