THE NSPCC is warning about the devastating mental health impact of the pandemic on children as new figures reveal a sharp increase in the number of counselling sessions about mental and emotional health with children aged 11 and under

Childline has seen an increase in their counselling services since lockdown measures were first introduced - with the monthly average rising by 16 per cent.

The latest data from the NSPCC also shows that the service has now delivered a total of 54,926 counselling sessions nationally to children of all ages on this issue from April to the end of December against the backdrop of the pandemic.

School Service Area Coordinator South West, Colette Hudson, who retrained to be a Childline Counsellor during the pandemic, said: “I’ve heard from a lot of children worried about their mental health including loneliness, low mood, low self-esteem, depression and anxiety.

“Some have been feeling isolated and overwhelmed due to concerns about family members catching the virus, or school closures and cancelled exams - while others have felt cut off from support networks and are missing family and friends.”

The monthly average number of counselling sessions on mental health where children spoke about loneliness also rose by 10 per cent compared to the pre-lockdown period from January to March.

Childline counselling is delivered by volunteers and in response to these latest worrying figures and with Covid restrictions continuing, the service is urgently appealing to those who can spare four hours one evening a week or at the weekend to volunteer, so Childline can be here for children when they need us the most.

With schools closed to the majority of pupils until at least mid-February and the whole of the UK in lockdown, Childline has never been more important as a source of support for young people who are struggling. Now more than ever, it is essential that children are not left isolated, alone and unsupported.

Childline Founder and President, Dame Esther Rantzen said: “With schools now shut again and children spending more time behind closed doors, it is absolutely imperative that Childline is there for them.

“Many young people, especially those in unsafe homes, are feeling desperately anxious and depressed. School can be the only safe haven they know, and without that support they feel entirely alone.

“For them, Childline is literally a life-line. But the service urgently needs more volunteers to listen to and support children, and more funds to pay for their calls and on-line contacts, and for that we depend upon the generosity and compassion of the public.”

But there is also a range of other ways to support the charity, NSPCC Supporter Fundraising Manager for the South West, Caroline Morgan is calling on the county to raise vital funds for the NSPCC.

She added: “Fundraising is such an important part of what we do. It costs £4 to answer a call to Childline to ensure we are here when a child finally has the courage to reach out to us.

“So, let’s take on 2021 and make it a better year for children, whether you take on a sponsored challenge, Kick the Caffeine, or fundraising in the community, every little helps.”

The NSPCC has been supported by players of People’s Postcode Lottery who provided crucial funding of £1,000,000 to Childline last year, the equivalent of running the service for an entire month.

Children can call Childline on 0800 11 11 from 7.30am to 3.30 am from Monday to Friday or 9am to 3.30am on weekends. Or they can get in touch via