Every one of us has been faced with worries and struggles because of coronavirus and the new ways in which we have had to live our lives, writes Adeniyi Alade, from the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC).
In the last few months, Childline has received hundreds of contacts from young people in Scotland who have struggled in this strange time.
We've heard about the loneliness that comes from not being able to see friends, the stresses of trying to study while schools and colleges are closed and the upset of having nowhere to escape from family arguments and difficulties at home.
Some young people have talked of feeling worried about family members who are ill or parents who have lost their jobs, others have had the pressure of caring for brothers and sisters. For some, home is not a safe place and these young people have talked about feeling trapped with nowhere to turn for help.
In more than half of our counselling sessions, during this difficult time, young people have talked about their struggles with emotional and mental health.
What happens when you talk to Childline?
If you are feeling worried, anxious or upset, it is so important you can talk to someone about what you are going through, so that you don’t have to deal with it alone. Our counsellors, who are trained staff and volunteers, are there to listen and support you whatever your worry, and however big or small it is.
Our counsellors are from all backgrounds and are all ages, but the one thing they have in common is that they want to help young people. They won’t judge you and they will let you take your time, so that you feel comfortable. They may ask you some questions about how you are feeling and how long you have felt like that for, to get a better idea of what you are going through. They can support you with making decisions and can also give you information about other places that can offer help.
We recently received a letter from a young person who we have spoken to a number of times over the years. In the note, she said,
I am like a completely different person. You literally saved my life.
It is messages like this that highlight just how important it is to have someone there listening and offering support when you are going through difficult times.
How can you get in touch with Childline?
Before Coronavirus, our counsellors would answer contacts throughout the night but since March almost half of our volunteers have been unable to do their shifts because they have had to stay at home to keep themselves and their families safe. Our counselling service is now open between 9am and midnight. During these times, you can talk to a counsellor on the phone or you can visit the Childline website and log on to our 1-2-1 chat to speak to a counsellor online. After midnight, you can still get support and advice on our website. Our message boards, which are available 24 hours a day, give you the chance to share your concerns and advice with each other.
The Childline website is regularly updated and gives advice to help you deal with all kinds of concerns. For example, its Calm Zone suggests various drawing and writing activities, breathing exercises and videos to help with anxiety and worry.
Childline is here to help anyone in the UK, under the age of 19, with any problem that you are going through. The phone call is free and it won’t show up on the phone bill. You don’t have to give your name and whatever you say is kept between you and Childline. The only time that we would need to tell someone else is if you asked us to or we thought you were in immediate danger.
To speak to a Childline counsellor call 0800 1111 or visit Childline's website.
On Monday 13th July at 12:30, we welcomed Lauren Burke from NSPCC Scotland onto our Instagram LIVE for our #AyeFeel Like Talking series. Lauren is also a counsellor at Childline and shared all about the service that Childline provides to young people across the UK. You can catch up on this conversation on our IGTV.
This article was written by Adeniyi Alade from the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) Scotland. The NSPCC are the UK’s leading children’s charity preventing child abuse and helping those affected to rebuild their lives.