Childline’s Nottinghamshire base has seen the number of counselling sessions about anxiety rise from 704 in 2014/15 to 917 in 2015/16. The cause for their concerns range from personal and family issues to concerns about world affairs such as the EU referendum, the US election and troubles in the Middle East.
That increase is reflected across the UK, as new NSPCC data reveals a 35 per cent rise in contacts about anxiety in the past year, with 11,706 children and young people being counselled by Childline in 2015/16 compared to 8,642 in 2014/15.
Children as young as eight have contacted the charity to talk about their fears, with girls seven times more likely to contact Childline for help about anxiety than boys.
During the last six months Childline, which is marking its 30th birthday this autumn, dealt with around 6,500 contacts where anxiety was the main issue – an equivalent of 36 a day.
Research indicates the reasons for the sharp rise are down to a combination of personal and political issues, with some young people talking to counsellors about problems in their day-to-day life while others say disturbing events seen in the media and social media are the source of their worries.
In response the NSPCC created a new webpage on the Childline website in September - “Worries about the World” – which has already received almost 5,000 visits.
Peter Wanless, chief executive of the NSPCC, said: “The world can be a worrying place but we need to ensure our children are reassured rather than left overwhelmed and frightened. It’s only natural for children and young people to feel worried sometimes, but when they are plagued by constant fears that are resulting in panic attacks and making them not want to leave the house then they need support.
“One of the most important ways to help those that are struggling is to make sure that they know they always have someone to talk to and that they never have to suffer alone, which is why Childline is as important now to children and young people as when it first launched back in 1986.”
Children and young people can contact Childline for free, confidential support, 24 hours a day on 0800 1111 or at www.childline.org.uk