As we start the new year in another period of lockdown with schools closed once again, we are very conscious of the many children who will be feeling isolated and alone.
At Childline, we speak to children about their mental and emotional health every day. Since lockdown measures were first introduced last March, we’ve held more than 3,000 counselling sessions with children living in Scotland who have contacted us with concerns about their mental and emotional health. The top concerns they spoke to us about were anxiety, low mood, depression, low self-esteem and loneliness.
Some have been feeling isolated and overwhelmed due to concerns about people close to them catching the virus, family relationships, and school closures and cancelled exams – while others have felt cut off from support networks and are missing family and friends.
One girl aged 16 who contacted Childline said: “I feel really sad and lonely. I need to talk to someone because I don’t really have anyone right now. I am really struggling with the whole isolation thing.
“Most days I find myself just lost in my own thoughts and feeling numb. I am classed as a vulnerable person, so my isolation lasts for 12 weeks, which seems like a lifetime.”
It is important to follow Government guidelines to stay home and stay safe, but it is also vital that we are speaking to our children about their feelings, and to reassure them about the future.
There’s lots of information on our website, where children can find advice on how to cope with how they’re feeling, how to contact us, and have the chance to connect with other young people about the things that are important to them through our message boards.
Childline is always here for children, and they can speak to a trained counsellor about anything they’re worried about. We’ve adapted our service by developing online training so volunteers can answer email contacts remotely. Unfortunately, despite this, we’ve had a 40% drop in our volunteer numbers since last March.
We’re looking for volunteers for our evening and weekend shifts, who can commit to one four-hour shift a week, to help ensure that we can continue to support children when they have nowhere else to turn.
To find out more about volunteering with Childline Aberdeen, and to sign up for an upcoming online volunteer info meeting, please visit: https://bit.ly/3lHcbjN
Children can call Childline on 0800 1111 from 9am to 3.30 am or they can get in touch via www.childline.org.uk