ChildLine’s recently published Can I Tell You Something? report has revealed a worrying trend for teenagers to contact the service about issues such as self-harm, suicide and online bullying.
ChildLine reports an 87 per cent increase in contacts regarding online bullying, whilst bullying contacts overall increased by just eight per cent.
More than 1,400 young people told ChildLine that they were experiencing racist bullying, a significant 69 per cent increase on last year. A common theme was for young people to be called a “terrorist” or a “bomber” and to be told to “go back to where they came from”.
Self-harm was mentioned in almost 47,000 counselling sessions, a 41 per cent year-on-year increase. ChildLine also reports a very worrying 50 per cent rise in contacts about self-harm specifically from 12 year olds – the highest increase of any age.
Contacts where young people felt suicidal increased by 33 per cent, with over 4,500 contacts from children aged between the ages of 12 and 15 alone, regarding suicide.
Peter Wanless, CEO of NSPCC has called for the voices of vulnerable children to be heard if these new emerging problems are to be tackled.
Barbara McIntosh, Head of Children and Young People at the Mental Health Foundation, responded to the report:
“These figures confirm the urgent need to tackle the escalating problems of child and adolescent mental health in the UK. The fact that the top issues affecting young people last year were depression and unhappiness is very worrying. We know half of all lifetime mental health problems have their roots in childhood so prevention and help early on are essential to ensure young people’s wellbeing.
“Early intervention and appropriate, youth friendly services are vital if we are to prevent mental health problems from becoming chronic and enduring in adulthood. The great economic benefits are compelling, with a potential saving of £150,000 per child alongside the reduction in anguish faced by each young person and his or her family.”