Childline launches mental health campaign aimed at boys before they reach crisis point
Childline has launched a new mental health campaign aimed at boys, who are more than twice as likely to take their own lives as girls.
The service, which is run by the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC), said new data showed that boys are far less likely to talk to its counsellors about mental health than girls.
In 2020/21, Childline carried out 31,899 counselling sessions with girls about mental health issues compared with just 5,622 for boys.
When it came to counselling sessions about suicidal thoughts and feelings, Childline delivered 11,719 with girls but just 1,592 with boys.
In a fifth of all sessions where boys mentioned if they had confided in anyone else, this was the first time they had spoken to anyone about their suicidal thoughts.
Despite fewer boys opening up, the latest national data for England and Wales covering 2020 shows that 122 boys aged 10 to 19 died by suicide. In the same year, 52 girls took their own life.
Launching the “We All Feel It” campaign for boys, Childline said there is an urgent need to help children before they reach crisis point.
Alex Gray, service head of Childline said: “At Childline, we know how hard it can be for children to speak out about their mental health.
“In particular, it can be really challenging for boys due to the pressures they feel around not showing emotion and appearing strong due to toxic masculinity.
“At Childline, we want to remind all children that sharing their mental health concerns with a trusted adult or a Childline counsellor is a brave thing to do and it will enable them to get the help and support they need.
“Talking about mental health issues early on can prevent things escalating and can save a young person’s life.
“We hope that by putting the spotlight on male mental health we can help boys understand that they are not alone.”
One male aged 18 told Childline: “I’m worried because I feel so depressed all of the time and have been thinking about suicide more lately.
“I confided in someone at work that I wasn’t doing very well mentally and they didn’t reply to my message. I feel really embarrassed about telling them how I was feeling.”
Another 18-year-old told a counsellor: “I’ve had intrusive thoughts for as long as I can remember, and sometimes they can make me suicidal.
“I would love to speak openly about it with my mum, but we’ve never had that sort of relationship and I fear she wouldn’t believe me or take me seriously.
“To be honest, I have no-one in my life that I can speak to, so just putting down my thoughts alone is like a weight that’s been lifted.”
Children and young people can contact Childline for free, confidential support and advice, 24 hours a day on 0800 1111 or at www.childline.org.uk.
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