THOUSANDS of children struggling with body image concerns and mental health difficulties are turning to Childline for help and support about eating disorders.

In 2017/18, the NSPCC’s Childline service carried out 5,934 counselling sessions about eating disorders and eating problems – up 22 per cent since 2016/17.

Almost nine in every ten counselling sessions were with girls, including 148 counselling sessions with girls aged 10-11. Nearly one in six counselling sessions mentioned anorexia, one in ten mentioned bulimia, and almost a third mentioned negative or distorted body image.

In addition, thousands of children who contacted Childline about other mental health issues, including suicidal feelings and self-harm, also talked about eating disorders or eating problems, bringing the total number of counselling sessions where eating disorders or eating problems were mentioned in 2017/18 to 11,752.

Young people say they feel under pressure to look a certain way and live a certain life. The reality is eating disorders are dangerous and can be lethal. It is therefore crucial that these young people receive effective help as soon as possible so they can go on to enjoy their childhood to the full.

Childline is there for these young people, but at the moment we can only answer three out of four young people who turn to us for help.

So we can meet the demand, the NSPCC’s Are You There? campaign is calling on Government to invest some of the £300 million it has committed for children’s mental health services towards early support services such as Childline.

We cannot do it alone though. The help we provide must be supplemented by mental health professionals so young people and families can access counselling when they need it the most.

Children and young people in need of advice or support about eating disorders or eating problems can contact Childline for free, confidential support and advice, 24 hours a day on 0800 1111 or at

Wendy Robinson

Childline Service Manager

London Base