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In brief: Mental health most common concern for Childline calls

A photograph over the should of a young person typing a phone number into their mobile phone
Priscilla Du Preez | Unsplash

News round-up by Conor D'Andrade

NSPCC reveals mental health as main reason children call Childline

The NSPCC has said that more needs to be done to tackle poor mental health among children, as it reports a massive increase in the number of children calling it’s Childline service for mental health support.

The charity delivered 105,000 counselling sessions in 2022/23 where children's primary concern was their mental and emotional health and well-being.

Stress and anxiety were the leading issues with 31,000 counselling sessions, followed by low mood and unhappiness (over 14,000 sessions), depression (6,389 sessions), and loneliness (5,109 sessions).

The NSPCC urged the government to provide funding and establish mental health support teams in all schools and colleges, emphasising that its April 2025 target for access for 50% of pupils “lacks the sense of urgency needed."

It also encouraged adults to offer support and reassurance to children without judgment.

Director of Childline, Shaun Friel, said:

“Young people may struggle with a range of mental health issues throughout their childhood and adolescence. This can be a time of turbulence, and so it’s important that children feel supported and uplifted.

“Ensuring that young people have a network of support, whether that’s in school, with their peers, at home or through organisations such as Childline, helps young people take the first step to tackling these struggles. Childline is here for any child that may be struggling with their mental and emotional wellbeing.”

Coroner concludes that ‘non-existent’ mental health care contributed to trans woman’s death

A coroner has found that the transfer of a trans woman from children's to adult mental health services was "non-existent," and contributed to her death.

Alice Litman, who waited nearly three years for gender-affirming healthcare, took her own life while on a clinic's waiting list.

The coroner, Sarah Clarke, expressed concerns about delays in gender-affirming healthcare and lack of clarity among clinicians.

Ms Clarke’s preventions of future death report includes the following concerns:

  • The knowledge and training for those in the mental health setting for managing and offering care to those in the transgender community

  • The delays in access to gender-affirming healthcare

  • The lack of provision of mental health care for those waiting for gender-affirming treatment

  • The lack of clarity for clinicians who are in place to support young transgender individuals in primary care

  • The lack of clarity for clinicians who are in place to support young transgender individuals in the mental health setting.

Alice’s family released a statement saying:

"It is our hope that these unprecedented reports will help to achieve urgent change.

"We can never bring Alice back, but we will keep campaigning to ensure that all trans people are able to live in dignity and receive the healthcare they need and deserve.

"The trans healthcare system is not fit for purpose. Trans people should not have to wait years to access essential care through inaccessible specialist services."

Living near parks and lakes boosts mental health

A recent study involving 2.3 million individuals in Wales explored the relationship between exposure to green and blue spaces (GBS) and mental health.

This 10-year-long study found that increased exposure to GBS was associated with a reduction in common mental disorders, with more pronounced effects observed among individuals in socio-economically deprived groups.

These findings have implications for informing government policies on the development of GBS to enhance mental health in communities.

School cycling programme leads to better mental well-being in adolescents

A study in the US has found that school-based cycling programmes lead to improved mental health.

Over 1,200 middle school students aged 11 to 14 participated in The Riding for Focus (R4F) programme’s survey, which was run by the non-profit Outride.

Surveys conducted before and after the cycling programme measured aspects of mental well-being and psychological functioning, revealing an improvement in teenagers' mental well-being scores.

Senior author, Dr Sean Wilson, said:

“A bicycle can be used for leisure activities, competition, and transportation. Thus, not only are students participating in an activity that improves their health and well-being, but also one that empowers them to explore the world”

Toy industry seeks role in helping build mental health resilience among children

Toy companies are beginning to focus on promoting mental, emotional, and social health (MESH) in children through toys designed to help them build emotional resilience and social skills.

This initiative has gained traction after the pandemic, as more children are dealing with mental health challenges.

The idea is to designate toys as MESH-certified, similar to how STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math) toys are certified.

Toys that promote skills such as conflict resolution, problem-solving, and self-advocacy are already popular, and the toy industry is seeking to expand this with MESH toys.

Study finds that music prevents anxiety-like behaviour and stress-induced depression in mice

A study has found that music can prevent stress-induced depression and anxiety-like behaviour in mice.

Examples of this behaviour include showing reduced interest in food.

The study found that music was able to prevent oxidative stress and elevated levels of inflammatory factors in the serum and brain tissues of mice, as well as reducing levels of the stress hormone corticosterone.


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