New ChildLine report: Under Pressure released today

Lizzie Bruce
13 Feb 2015

ChildLine’s new report Under Pressure, analysing data about how and why children had got in touch over the last year, was released today. 

In 2013/14, ChildLine carried out almost 300,000 counselling sessions with children and young people. Over two thirds of these took place online – via email and 1-2-1 chat.

Report highlights

Key findings on what young people are telling ChildLine about and which issues are affecting them, highlighted in the report, show that:

  • mental health issue counselling has risen – two thirds of counselling sessions were on issues relating to mental health
  • abuse remains a primary issue – almost 50,000 counselling sessions with young people were about sexual, physical and emotional abuse
  • shift in the nature of reported abuse – a decrease in mentions of physical abuse in counselling sessions, but a 168 per cent increase in mention of online sexual abuse
  • online bullying continuing to rise – an 87 per cent increase in counselling about online bullying over the past three years
  • 200 per cent increase exam stress counselling

Mental health issues

Four of the ten most frequently mentioned issues that children contacted ChildLine about related to mental health problems like:

  • self-harm
  • suicidal feelings
  • low self-esteem and unhappiness
  • issues that are prolonged or re-occurring and significantly interfere with the young person being able to lead a normal life

The rise in mental health issues is closely linked to other problems such as school and education problems, which appeared in the top ten concerns for the first time, a rise of 13 per cent.

School stress

Problems at school were most frequently mentioned as an additional concern, and where this was the case, the primary concern was most likely to be a mental health issue.

58 per cent of counselling sessions in relation to school and education problems were about exam stress, a 200 per cent rise on the previous year. Other school-related worries were:

  • not wanting to disappoint their parents
  • fear of failure
  • general pressures linked to academic achievement

Family problems

Young people spoke about issues such as divorce, separation and conflicts in the family in almost 81,000 counselling sessions. When problems in their relationships at home escalate, the pressure leads to a decline in young person’s emotional well-being, leading to feelings of depression and isolation.

Online issues

There’s been an 87 per cent increase in the number of counselling sessions about online bullying. However, the digital world also provides more opportunities to access help – now 68 per cent of ChildLine counselling sessions takes place online.

YoungMinds recently ran an online campaign called #MatesMatter for Safer Internet Day, to grow awareness among young people of how they can look out for their friends online.

GetTing help

YoungMinds offers online support for children and young people who are experiencing problems with their mental health, as well as offering support and information for their parents


Find out more about abuse and getting help.


If you are being bullied online on websites like Facebook you can report it  to the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre. You could also contact Cybermentors

We also have a section on this website with more support and suggestions about coping with bullying

School Stress

If you are or have been affected by exam and schoolwork pressure, please visit our YoungMingsVs School Stress online campaign.

YoungMindsVs School Stress 

ChildLine comment On the Under pressure report

ChildLine Founder, Dame Esther Rantzen said:

We must not only understand how to encourage young people to speak about their unhappiness, and treat these conditions more effectively, but also face up to the reality that far too many of the nation’s children seem to be struggling alone and in despair…  It is crucial that counselling is available for children who need it, and that those who work with young people are alert to the symptoms of depression and isolation.

It is all of our responsibility to ensure children can talk about issues and we must all look out for signs that they’re not able to cope. We must support and encourage our children to open up and if they can’t talk to you, maybe they can talk to ChildLine. It is free and confidential, all they need to do is ring 0800 1111, or contact ChildLine online at”

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