The NSPCC is warning about the devastating mental health impact of the pandemic on children.
New figures reveal Childline has seen an increase in the number of counselling sessions with children aged 11 and under since lockdown measures were first introduced.
rise in the number of children under 11 using counselling services
The latest data from the charity also shows that the service has now delivered a total of 54,926 counselling sessions to children of all ages on this issue from April to the end of December.
The monthly average number of counselling sessions on mental health where children spoke about loneliness also rose by 10% compared to the pre-lockdown period from January to March.
Childline counselling is delivered by volunteers and in response to these latest figures and with COVID restrictions continuing, the service is appealing to those who can spare four hours one evening a week or at the weekend to volunteer.
With schools closed to the majority of pupils until at least mid-February and the whole of the UK in lockdown, Childline has never been more important as a source of support for young people who are struggling. Now more than ever, it is essential that children are not left isolated, alone and unsupported.
Children who contacted Childline’s trained counsellors about their mental health spoke about concerns including loneliness, low mood, low self-esteem, depression and anxiety.
Some have been feeling isolated and overwhelmed due to concerns about family members catching the virus, or school closures and cancelled exams - while others have felt cut off from support networks and are missing family and friends.
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.
Since the first lockdown last year, mental health has remained the top concern that children and young people talked to Childline about.
The service has delivered between 5000 to 7000 counselling sessions every month on this issue with the numbers fluctuating throughout the year as the situation changes and Covid restrictions were lifted and re-imposed. Since the latest national lockdown many children have been reaching out and talking about this and Childline. Bosses say the charity is continuing to support them with their worries.