CHILDLINE ADVICE: The huge impact that virus is having on our children’s lives
Here at Childline we have been talking to children and young people about their mental and emotional health for almost 35 years now, so while it is an issue that we are very much used to discussing, the sheer volume of contacts we have received since last March is troubling, and demonstrates the huge impact the pandemic has had on our children.
Since the start of the first lockdown we have undertaken more than 50,000 counselling sessions with young people who told us they were experiencing depression, low mood, anxiety, low self-esteem, confidence issues, and loneliness. And the figures show an average monthly increase of about 16 per cent when compared to the pre-lockdown period from January to March.
As we get to grips with another lockdown, school closures and stay at home rules mean a lot of young people are again cut off from their friends, teachers and support networks outside the family.
This can be particularly true where children have to isolate, for any number of reasons, leaving them feeling cut off without any idea of what the future will hold.
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.”
So while it is important we all stay home and stay safe, it is also vital that we’re talking to our children and young people about how they are feeling, and try to reassure them about the future.
You can also encourage them to contact Childline – this doesn’t have to mean speaking to a counsellor, although our trained volunteers are always there for children and young people who need them.
Our website – www.childline.org.uk - gives children a chance to find advice on how they’re feeling, to contact us, and to connect with other young people about the things that are important to them through our message boards – hopefully discovering that they are certainly not alone in how they feel.
We also have our Calm Zone, which has lots of practical tips on how to lift your mood and deal with loneliness, anxiety and mental health in general. This has proven even more popular in the last year, so we hope it’s helped a lot of young people through all the uncertainty.