NSPCC Scotland has released new data from its Childline service – to mark Children’s Mental Health Week and raise awareness of how we can help and support children when they are experiencing poor mental health and suicidal thoughts.
Children’s Mental Health Week (6th-12th February) is an annual event in the UK that aims to raise awareness of children’s mental health. It is co-ordinated by the children’s charity Place2Be, and this year’s theme is Let’s Connect, encouraging children and young people to connect with others in healthy, rewarding, and meaningful ways.
This new data from the NSPCC reveals that Childline counsellors delivered 1,345 counselling sessions with children in Scotland who were experiencing suicidal thoughts or feelings last year from April 2021 to March 2022.
Adeniyi Alade, service head of Childline in Scotland, said: “At Childline, we know that hundreds of children across Scotland are struggling with their mental health, and it remains the number one concern that our counsellors speak to children about every day.
“Whilst some are grappling with anxiety, others are experiencing depression and suicidal thoughts and feelings.
“Many of these children tell our counsellors they are the first person they have spoken to and that they’ve not known who else to turn to.
“No matter what a child’s experience is, if they are struggling with their mental health, we believe it is essential they get the support they need to help them cope quickly.
“That’s why this children’s mental health awareness week we want to remind all young people that Childline is here for them 24/7, whether that be on the phone or via an email or 121 chat.
“As well as speaking with one of our counsellors, we also have lots of resources and advice available online like our monitored message boards which allow young people to speak with their peers and connect and share their experiences.”
Sandra Gordon, a Childline counsellor at NSPCC’s Glasgow call centre, said: “Over the last few years mental health has been a huge issue.
“For some young people things can be so tough at home and sometimes they think about taking their own life. They may feel anxious and be struggling on a lot of levels. Young people feel isolated when they have fallen out with friends, they are arguing with parents and finding their schoolwork difficult.
Sandra added: “We are there to listen, we’d never judge any young person, and we try to build their confidence and self-esteem. We allow them to explore other options and try to make them feel valued. For many young people it can be easier to talk to someone you don’t know and it helps to know they can remain anonymous.”
A boy aged 15 from Scotland who called Childline said: “I’m going to kill myself tonight. Every day is so hard; everyone is upsetting me all the time. I’m just so stressed. I’ve been feeling like this all week but today things happened which are the last straw for me.”
Another 15-year-old boy who called Childline said: “For the past few months, I’ve been feeling lonely and like I’m nothing. Most recently I’ve had really dark thoughts about suicide. I’ve been self-harming as a distraction as wherever I go it’s always on mind – it seems to just follow me and it’s really overwhelming. I act as happy when I’m around my mum – she seems to think I’m fine but I’m really dying inside. I feel like nobody understands and I don’t know who to tell. I’m worried they’ll laugh and won’t believe me or say, ‘you out of all people can’t be feeling that!’.”
A boy aged 17 who called Childline said: “I keep getting these suicidal thoughts and I don’t know what to do about them. I try to distract myself or I ride them out, but the thoughts always end up coming back. You’re the first person I’ve told this to. I don’t really want my mam to know cos it will only worry her and probably make me feel even worse.”