At Childline, we know how tough the last year has been for children and young people. Their school routine has been disrupted, support networks limited, and they have faced the uncertainty of what the future will bring.
This week marks Children’s Mental Health Week, and each year the aim is to shine a spotlight on the importance of children and young people’s mental and emotional health. It is vital, this year more than ever, that children are listened to and supported, as many will have experienced issues such as loneliness, isolation, and anxiety.
Our Childline counsellors hear from children every day about how the pandemic is affecting their mental and emotional health. In fact, there have been more than 55,000 counselling sessions with children across the UK about their mental health since the first lockdown last March.
One 13-year-old girl, living in Scotland, told us: “Last year in lockdown I wasn’t in a good head space and started self-harming, but when I got back to school everything became fine again and I just went back to normal.
“Now we’re back in lockdown again, it’s like I’ve gone back to square one – I can already feel the urge to self-harm coming back. I don’t think it’s even being in lockdown so much, it’s more that I don’t have my friends to stop me or keep me safe.”
Our counsellors know there are many children feeling this way because we talk about it frequently with those who contact us. A lot of these children may think like they are alone in the way that they are feeling, or that they are not doing as well as their friends.
This is why we should all use Children’s Mental Health Week as a way to start up a conversation with the children in our lives to ask them how they are feeling if they are worried or have fears, and what concerns they may have about what is happening and for the future.
If your child is struggling, make sure they know they can talk to you about their feelings and what is making them anxious. Let them know they can trust you to listen, and give them a space to share their worries.
And of course, we’re still here for children, so they can also get in contact with our Childline counsellors on the phone or online, this Children’s Mental Health Week and any other time.
Children can call Childline on 0800 1111 from 9am to 3.30 am or they can get in touch via www.childline.org.uk