Childline Unable to Cope with Demand, Needs More Funding, MPs Say

Amie Sparrow
By Amie Sparrow,
updated on May 24, 2018

Childline Unable to Cope with Demand, Needs More Funding, MPs Say

An open letter signed by 130 MPs calls for an urgent increase in funding for the NSPCC's Childline as the charity says it can’t cope with current demands

The letter, published in today's Telegraph, urges the government to allocate a portion of the £300m pledged in the Transforming Children and Young People’s Mental Health Provision Green Paper to the NSPCC Childline service, which it calls the "front line of mental health support for young people”.

Childline is a 24-hour, 365-day service that is free, confidential, and available for anyone under 19 years old. It has revealed that it can only respond to three out of four children who contact it for help.

“More young people than ever before tell Childline they are overwhelmed by serious mental health issues such as depression, anxiety and suicidal thoughts, and we are seeing this reflected in the amount of counselling sessions we are delivering," an NSPCC spokesperson told Happiful. "Our counsellors know we are literally saving lives, and it concerns us deeply that we cannot help every child who desperately needs to reach us".

One in 10 children and young people in England has a diagnosable mental health condition, and yet less than a third receive NHS treatment or support, the open letter stated. "Additionally, recent estimates suggest that as many as one in four school-age children experiences some form of mental health issue. Without early help, some of these initially manageable problems are likely to escalate into something much more serious.”

The letter states that the Green Paper provides "a crucial opportunity to reform our mental health system to make sure that all young people receive the help they need, when they need it. It includes welcome measures to improve school-based services, but we believe the Government can go further still." The letter ends by urging the Government to allocate "an appropritate proportion" of the £300 million to "ensure that Childline is equipped to meet the rising demand".

Childline has seen a 150% increase in counselling sessions since 2010-11 with children who are suicidal, but is only able to support three in every four children who contact it, which is why urgent funding is needed to increase the number of volunteers and improve and expand volunteer training.

Childline provided 295,202 counselling sessions to children and young people in 2016/17. Last year the government proposed mental health support for children in schools, but two thirds of Childline counselling sessions took place outside school hours (5pm-9am), according to the Are you There campaign website.

“Childline is often the first place young people come to for help because they know they can talk to us in confidence when they have nowhere else to turn. Childline has been a life-line for millions of children and young people for the past 31 years, and these figures show how much of a vital service Childline continues to be”, an NSPCC spokesperson told Happiful.

Volunteering for Childline

  • Childline volunteer counsellors receive 44 hours of initial training and mentoring before committing to at least one year of weekly shifts that last for four and a quarter hours. The charity provides regular skills development workshops and counsellors attend regular supervision. Volunteer counsellors must have the motivation to support and protect children and young people, good IT skills, good communication skills, an empathetic and non-judgemental outlook, emotional resilience and the ability to maintain confidentiality, among other requirements.
  • Email counsellors take part in a full day’s training session before committing to a year of weekly four and a quarter hour volunteering shifts.
  • Switchboard volunteers receive 3.5 hours of training before committing to at least one year of weekly shifts that last two hours.
  • Admin volunteers get an introduction and on-the-job training sessions and also commit to a regular weekly shift of up to four hours between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. for at least one year.

To learn more about child counselling or to find a professional counsellor or psychotherapist for a child, visit Counselling Directory's child related issues page.

Photo by Gaelle Marcel on Unsplash.
unsplash-logoGaelle Marcel

Amie Sparrow

By Amie Sparrow

Amie is a contributing writer for Happiful and PR Manager for Happiful and Memiah.

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