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Rise in number of children phoning Childline over eating disorders

The number of children counselled by Childline for eating disorders has risen by 22% in the last year.

The NSPCC say nearly 6,000 counselling sessions were carried out across the UK last year – the equivalent of 16 a day.

In Scotland, counsellors dealt with 231 calls from children over eating disorders.

The NSPCC’s urging the government to increase mental health support for children.

Leanne Ferries, Childline manager for the Aberdeen base said:  

“Young people tell us that they feel under pressure to look a certain way and live a certain life, and it’s worrying that we are seeing so many children contact us about eating disorders as a result, in some cases when they are still at primary school.

“It’s crucial that all those struggling with such debilitating eating problems are given all the help they need to make a full recovery so that they can go on to enjoy their childhood and teenage years to the full.

“The starting point on that journey is to open up and talk to someone who can listen without judgement, which is why Childline is such a crucial service for these thousands of children.”

Dame Esther Rantzen, Childline Founder and President said:

“Eating disorders are dangerous, and can be lethal.   Families are left watching helplessly as their children’s lives are put at risk, and it is crucial that these young people receive effective help.  

“And we must ask ourselves the reason for this dangerous increase?   Perhaps it is because an obsession with body shape has been created, forcing young people to try to be as skinny as the unnaturally photoshopped images in the media.   The fashion and beauty industries must also be aware of the vulnerable young people who aspire to what they see on social media.

“Childline is there for these young people, and we offer support which we hope will enable them to recover and go on to live healthy lives.   But at the moment we can only answer three out of four young people who turn to us for help, so we need funds so that we can expand our service to meet the demand.  

“In addition, the help we provide must be supplemented by mental health professionals, and we know how difficult it is for young people and families to access the counselling when they desperately need it.” 

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