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The toll of stress and anxiety on Scotland's young people


Childline reveals counselling stats on World Mental Health Day

More than half of all counselling sessions delivered by Childline to children last year focused on young people struggling with mental health issues.

In 2022/23 the NSPCC service delivered at least 4,627 counselling sessions to children living in Scotland on mental and emotional health and wellbeing. Of these, 1,310 were specifically related to stress and anxiety. 

This World Mental Health Day (10 October), the charity is raising awareness of the mental and emotional health issues children and young people are facing, and to let them know they are never alone.

NSPCC Scotland says it is vital that children are able to access early intervention support, such as through school, which can prevent young people’s mental health problems from getting worse and potentially reaching crisis point.

The charity believes that a top priority for Scottish Government investment should be in better support for families during pregnancy and in the early years, which can lay the foundations for positive mental health and wellbeing in a person’s life. 

Childline continues to be a safe space for anyone under the age of 19 who is seeking help and support, with the option for them to speak to a counsellor either over the phone or online. Last year the service delivered more than 8,500 counselling sessions to children and young people in Scotland. 

The top five issues raised by children and young people when speaking to Childline about their emotional and mental wellbeing were:

  • Anxiety and stress – 1,310 counselling sessions
  • Low mood and unhappiness – 634 counselling sessions
  • Depression – 292 counselling sessions
  • Accessing support and services for mental health – 287 counselling sessions
  • Loneliness – 210 counselling sessions

A 15-year-old girl from Scotland told Childline: “I’ve been struggling with even basic tasks lately because of anxiety. I get filled with panic, can’t function and then I get angry with myself, so it gets even worse. It’s really frustrating. I want to tell someone but I’m not sure if my problems are important to anyone.”

It can be hard for parents to accept that their child may be struggling with mental health issues, such as depression or anxiety. However, it is crucial that young people feel supported, reassured and not judged by the adults in their lives.

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.”

All children can speak to a trained counsellor over the phone on 0800 1111, via email or on a 121 chat on the Childline website.

Children can also visit the website to find more advice on any concerns or questions they may have about mental health struggles.



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