35% Rise In Kids With Anxiety Issues

31 October 2016, 06:00

The number of children and young people seeking help for anxiety has jumped sharply, new figures indicate.

Data from the NSPCC's Childline service showed that it dealt with 11,706 counselling sessions where anxiety was mentioned in 2015/16 - a rate of nearly 1,000 a month.

The tally was an increase of more than a third (35%) compared to the 8,642 in the previous year.

Causes ranged from personal and family issues to concerns about world affairs such as the EU referendum and trouble in the Middle East, according to the charity.

It said the problem appears to be getting worse, with provisional figures showing that from April to September the facility dealt with almost 6,500 contacts where anxiety was cited as the main issue - an average of more than 1,000 a month.

Children as young as eight have got in touch to talk about their fears, with girls seven times more likely to contact Childline for help with anxiety than boys.

The NSPCC said research indicates the reasons for the sharp rise are down to a combination of personal and political issues, with some youngsters talking to counsellors about problems in their day-to-day life, while others cite disturbing events seen in the media and on social media.

Childline president Esther Rantzen said children and young people are sometimes frightened and distressed by events in the wider world.

"Seeing pictures of crying and bewildered toddlers being pulled from bomb-damaged homes upsets all of us,'' she said.

"Often we fail to notice the impact these stories are having on young people.''

"The good news is that so many children are able to express their anxiety to Childline, knowing that we will take them seriously, so that we are able to reassure them.''

She added: "Sometimes these stories also reveal related concerns in their own lives, such as being subjected to racist bullying.

"The fact that they turn to Childline, knowing that we will listen to them, and care about them, means that if they suffer from other problems such as abuse or neglect, self harm or cyber-bullying, they will also turn to us for help.''

Peter Wanless, chief executive of the NSPCC, said: "The world can be a worrying place but we need to ensure our children are reassured rather than left overwhelmed and frightened.

"It's only natural for children and young people to feel worried sometimes, but when they are plagued by constant fears that are resulting in panic attacks and making them not want to leave the house then they need support.''