Thousands turn to ChildLine over holiday season
ChildLine carried out 7,862 counselling sessions with children and young people over the twelve days between Christmas Eve to January 4, an average of 655 per day. And for the first time ever, more of these contacts took place online than by phone.
ChildLine carried out 7,862 counselling sessions with children and young people over the twelve days between Christmas Eve to January 4, an average of 655 per day. And for the first time ever, more of these contacts took place online than by phone[i].
Trained volunteer counsellors at ChildLine bases in Belfast and Foyle counselled 639 children and young people during the 12 day holiday period. The main reason why children accessed support was for issues relating to their emotional wellbeing and family relationships. Other top reasons included bullying and self-harm.
One young person who contacted ChildLine in Foyle said: “I went to my GP and they confirmed I am pregnant and I don't know how to tell my Mum. She has always said that I shouldn’t have children young but I have been with my boyfriend a while and we both want this baby. What do I do?”*
Across the UK there was a significant rise in counselling sessions related to self-harm, an issue which increased overall from the same period last year by 41 per and by 86% for the 12-15 year age group. More children were also counselled about emotional abuse and eating problems and for the first time, suicide featured in the top five concerns during Christmas, having increased by 64% from the same period last year.
Josh contacted ChildLine over the festive period looking for support with his suicidal feelings. Josh had been experiencing extreme panic attacks which made him feel exhausted and unable to eat or sleep. “I have suicidal thoughts every day – I think about what a relief it would be not to have to try and cope anymore”.*
The down time during the Christmas break had made Josh’s panic attacks escalate but he was able to use ChildLine whenever he felt suicidal. The counsellor sent Josh links to information about coping with anxiety and with the right support, was eventually able to make an appointment to see a doctor.
Sharon Bayliss from ChildLine Northern Ireland said: "ChildLine is a vital lifeline for thousands of young people who desperately need support and advice – often on very complex and sensitive issues. Christmas can be a particularly difficult for vulnerable young people and a general lack of services and support during this time can make everything feel more difficult to resolve.
“None of this work with children and young people would be possible without the dedication of our trained volunteer counsellors who work tirelessly around the clock to ensure that the most vulnerable young people can get the safe and trusted support they need”.
Earlier this month, Josh wrote to ChildLine again. He said: “I just want to say thank you for making me feel a lot happier over the last few days. The first step I took to get rid of my constant panic attacks was contacting ChildLine, so thanks.”
The ChildLine bases in Belfast and Foyle are currently recruiting volunteers. For more information please call 0870 336 2945 or email [email protected].
* Although these counselling sessions have taken place at a particular base, the child or young person may have contacted ChildLine from anywhere in the UK. All names and potentially identifying details have been changed to protect the identity of the child or young person. Snapshots are created from real ChildLine contacts, but are not necessarily direct quotes from the young person.
Notes to editor
[i] 64% of children and young people accessed support via online channels over the 12 days of Christmas 2012-13, compared to 49% over the same period in 2011-12 and 44% in 2010-11.