January’s cold, dark days make it harder to feel motivated to get out of the house and can exacerbate feelings of loneliness and isolation – a topic our Childline counsellors around the country have seen rise by 47% among under-11s in the last year.
Our most recent Childline Annual Review showed that more than 34,500 counselling sessions – roughly 14% of all counselling sessions given by our Childline service – were given to children and young people who said the Childline counsellor was the first person they had spoken to about their problem.
Of course, we’re here to offer support whenever children need us, but there are ways for parents and carers to help prevent children becoming affected by loneliness, sadness and depression – not just around Blue Monday, but throughout the year.
Ask regularly how they are feeling and about anything that might be on their mind. These don’t have to be formal discussions, just chats over a meal, during an ad break, or on the way to or from school - the more common these discussions are, the more reassured they’ll be that they can confide in you.
Going offline is a great way to deal with Blue Monday – even just a few minutes of fresh air from a kickabout or a walk round the block can be enough to brighten their mood.
Likewise, if there are after-school activity clubs they can get involved in, learning a new skill and meeting like-minded peers will make a positive difference.
The Childline website – www.childline.org.uk – also has moderated message boards where they can talk to other young people about their ‘January blues’ and anything else that’s bothering them.
Chances are, they’ll find out they’re not alone in feeling this way and discover how others might have dealt with similar feelings. There are also mindfulness exercises, art tools and more for them to explore and see what works.