The number of children seeking help because they feel lonely has increased, according to Childline.
In a new report, the NSPCC-supported service has reported an increase of 14 per cent in calls about loneliness, compared with previous years.
The youngest caller was 10 years old and the majority of callers were girls – 80 per cent. Callers mentioned mental health issues, bullying and social media as factors that are contributing to feelings of isolation and loneliness.
According to Childline, one unnamed teenage boy told them: ‘Recently I’ve been feeling really isolated and alone. I see all my friends having a good time on social media and it gets me down, I feel like no one cares enough to invite me.
‘My mood is getting worse and now I’m just upset all the time and can’t stop crying. It’s affecting my school work and my mood swings are uncontrollable, it’s like everything is falling apart. I just don’t want to feel alone anymore.’
Speaking about the findings, Childline founder Dame Esther Rantzen said that the issue needs to be seriously addressed as it could have damaging consequences to children’s physical and mental health.
‘The crucial question is what is causing this rise among the young? Are we all too busy to make space and time for our children? Is it that we have lost the habit of eating together? Or is it the illusion created by social networks that everyone else is liked, popular and enjoying a far more exciting life so they feel lonelier than ever?’, she said.
‘Whatever the reason it’s crucial that young people know they can always contact Childline to speak to someone who will listen and care about them.’
The charity also released guidelines for parents who might be worried their children are experiencing a similar situation. Here’s what you can do:
– Use times when you won’t be interrupted to start conversations, like during a walk or car ride
– Avoid overreacting if your child tells you something that alarms and upsets you, as this could put them off opening up to you
– Try again in a few days if you child isn’t ready to talk
– Make sure you show them you value their feelings and opinions by taking in everything they’re saying.
Children can contact Childline for free and confidential support anytime on 0800 1111, www.childline.org.uk or by downloading the “For Me” app from the app store.