The number of young people seeking help for anxiety has nearly doubled in two years, according to figures released by Childline.

The NSPCC, which runs Childline, said more young people are seeking support for anxiety after being overwhelmed by the pressures of modern day life.

Last year, Childline delivered 21,297 counselling sessions to young people trying to cope with feelings of anxiety – almost twice as many as two years ago.

Nine out of 10 calls were from girls.

The charity said young people gave a variety of reasons for their anxiety, including bullying and cyber-bullying, eating and relationship problems and difficulties at school with homework and exams.

Shocking statistics

Martin Bell, BACP’s deputy head of policy and public affairs, said: "These are shocking statistics that once again highlight the need to ensure our most vulnerable young people have access to the right support at the right time.

“Professional, qualified counsellors should not be out of reach to those young people whose anxiety is threatening their home, family and school lives.

“Childline’s counsellors do a fantastic job in providing free, confidential support for children and young people – and we continue to applaud their work.”

BACP member Jane Darougar, a counsellor at a London college, said it was often heart-breaking to hear the reasons why teenagers were so anxious.

“Anxiety is absolutely endemic in young people.

“Young people are absorbing their family’s anxieties; whether there’s enough food on the table or whether they can keep a roof over their heads. They can see their parents are anxious and they don’t want to share their own struggles with them. These are very real problems.

“We get a lot of social anxiety too – especially after the transition from primary to secondary school.”

Anxiety is ‘endemic’ in young people, says BACP member Jane Darougar
Anxiety is ‘endemic’ in young people, says BACP member Jane Darougar

She said she had witnessed effects of anxiety on young people including: panic attacks in class, vomiting before exams, young people coming to college late because they were anxious about travelling on a crowded bus and some teenagers not coming in at all due to their anxiety.

“It really affects young people so deeply," she added.

Jane helps teach young people coping mechanisms for their anxiety. This includes sleep strategies, mindfulness, CBT and looking at caffeine intake and increasing exercise. 

She said: “One issue is the lack of sleep. This is a bit of a chicken and an egg problem. Does the anxiety cause people to have disturbed sleep? Or does the lack of sleep mean they are more are risk of anxiety?”

Anxiety group

She also runs an anxiety group for young people affected by the condition.

“This is very practical and strategy based. But one of the most lovely things about it, is the young people send each other supportive messages. If one of them is having difficulties they will send a message out, and they will get a host of positive messages from the others saying ‘you can do it’”

She added: “We recognise that being in education or training is a strong protective force for a young person who is struggling with anxiety. If they leave, it can have a far deeper impact. We are determined to do everything we can to help young people stay in education.”

To find a counsellor or therapist who can help with anxiety visit our Therapists’ Directory.