Disturbing stats show the extent of mental anguish among young people
More than 50,000 children were counselled about a serious mental health issue by the Childline service last year – an average of one every eleven minutes.
The disturbing statistics, released by NSPCC at the start of Children’s Mental Health Week, highlight how young people are increasingly wrestling with a range of problems that include depressive disorders, self-harm and suicidal feelings.
They also raise further concerns about the level of mental health care available.
The figures show that in 2015-16 50,819 children and young people received counselling for a serious mental health issue, a four-year rise of 8%.
This means that one in six of all Childline counselling sessions were focused on this problem.
More than a third of counselling sessions about serious mental health issues were with 12 to 15 year olds, with girls almost seven times more likely to seek help than boys.
And the sharpest increase in counselling sessions delivered over the previous four years were for mental health and depressive disorders, with Childline experiencing a 36% increase.
The release of the figures comes as the NSPCC marks the one year anniversary of the It’s Time campaign, which has seen the charity pushing the government to ensure that young victims of abuse and neglect are given access to the right mental health support in a timely manner to aid their recovery.
Matt Forde, national head of service for NSPCC Scotland, said: “It’s deeply concerning that so many young people are contacting Childline with a serious mental health problem, with some of this suffering being a direct result of the individual having previously experienced abuse and neglect.
“Currently in Scotland, the threshold of need for CAMHS (child and adolescent mental health services) provision is too high to enable children to access services before they hit crisis point.
“Protecting children needs a system built on strong services. These services must recognise a child’s wellbeing relies on the quality of caregiving relationships from the earliest days, that supports the development of secure attachment and provides the building blocks for healthy relationships throughout infancy, childhood and adolescence.
Meanwhile, Samaritans chief executive Ruth Sutherland has made a contribution to Children’s Mental Health Week by saying that easing the pressures on children and young people by teaching them how to manage their emotional wellbeing should be made a national priority.
She said: “We all need to be more aware of the support children require to meet the challenge of life’s ups and downs, and we can work together to prepare them to get through tough times.
“No one is born knowing how to deal with emotions. You have to learn, and some people find it harder than others. However, it is as important as learning to read and write, and we want to help children grow up to be resilient in the face of life’s traumas and setbacks."
She also highlighted the need for schools to be prepared to deal with a suicide: “Heads often tell us that they had never imagined a suicide happening in their school and they wish they had been better prepared.
“Samaritans volunteers work with schools in the aftermath of a suicide and help them to manage what can be one of the most devastating things that can ever happen to a school.
Children’s Mental Health Week runs from 6-12 February, and the theme is "spread a little kindness".