Number of children having anxiety counselling rises 60 per cent

Laura Donnelly
Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt sent a strong warning to Facebook - Getty Images

The number of children having therapy for anxiety has risen by 60 per cent in two years, new figures show.

Childline said growing distress among children and teenagers was fuelling record numbers of counselling sessions, including thousands for children having panic attacks.

Their figures show 13,746 sessions in 2016/17 for children suffering from anxiety - including more than 3,304 suffering panic attacks.

Peter Wanless, chief executive of the NSPCC said: “Anxiety is a growing problem in young people’s lives today, and it is not going away. We all need to help children and teenagers find ways to cope with their anxious feelings and not dismiss them as an overreaction.

 

 

 

“One of the most important ways to help those that are struggling is to make sure they know they always have someone to talk to and they never have to suffer alone, which is why Childline is so vital.”

Dame Esther Rantzen, founder and president of Childline said: “It’s only natural for children and young people to feel worried sometimes, but when they are plagued by constant fears which result in panic attacks and make them too anxious to leave their homes then they need urgent support.

It follows warnings from the Health Secretary that heavy use of social media is fuelling increasing despair, inadequacy and levels of self-harm among children.

Jeremy Hunt held meetings with Facebook, Twitter and Microsoft last month to discuss how to “turn the tide” on damage caused by overexposure to the internet. Companies were asked to do more to prevent under-age use of sites, and to introduce warning alarms and pop up advice when children spent unhealthy amounts of time online.  

But this week Facebook launched an app for children as young as six, leading Mr Hunt to angrily urge the company to “stay away from my kids”.

Facebook said the new app being trialled in the United States aimed to give children “positive, safer and age-appropriate” technology online.

 Others criticising the new app, included the widower of MP Jo Cox.

Brendan Cox shared a story about the initiative, and said: "No thanks."

The Children's Society took a more positive view, saying: "59 per cent of young people start using social media aged 12 or under, so a great step in protecting younger children. Teens must not be forgotten - we want to hear from social media companies how they're going to protect teenage users."

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