Childline Launch UK's First Counselling App

App invented by four teenage girls will mean young people can get counselling via their smartphone.

New Childline app is the first to counsel young people via their smartphone.

The NSPCC's Childline is today launching the UK's first app to provide counselling to young people in need of help directly through their smartphone. 

'For Me' was invented by four teenage girls who wanted to make technology benefit the community and realised there was an urgent need for young people to have easy access to confidential advice and support.  

The app that was subsequently developed is now available as a free download with users being able to interact with all of Childline's online services.

These include 1-2-1 chat with a counsellor, the 'Ask Sam' problem pages and entrance to their private locker - an area where they have their own daily mood tracker and can write down personal thoughts.

The charity is hoping that the app will make it easier for children to contact the helpline and talk about a range of issues.

Last year more than 17,800 counselling sessions were carried out by Childline about friendship issues, with the most common concerns that they are experiencing including falling out with friends, having no friends, or struggling to make friends.

In Wales, there were 433 counselling sessions carried out by volunteers with the issue the sixth most common concern raised by children and young people. This was a 10% increase from 2014/15, where the figure was 394.

A girl contacting Childline from Wales, 15, said, "I've been feeling so lonely recently and I don't know who to talk to. I feel like I can't tell my friends about it and I always lie when they ask me if something's wrong.

"I used to have a really close friend that I talked to all the time but we fell out." 

A boy contacting Childline from Wales, 14, said, "I used to have a big group of friends, but recently they just started leaving me out and not talking to me.

"I thought the guys I was closer with would stick up for me but they just didn't say anything and let it happen." 

The introduction of the new app reflects the changing way that young people now engage and interact with Childline when they need advice and support.

When the service first launched 30 years ago all contact was over the phone, with many calls being made from telephone boxes. 

Now 71% of counselling sessions are delivered online via email and 1-2-1 chat*, with the majority of the remaining counselling sessions being conducted with a young person via their mobile phone. 

Furthermore, last year, around 54% of Childline's web traffic (1.8 million sessions) was via mobile devices.

The app has been named 'For Me' to ensure that it can be discreetly installed on mobile devices, something young people said they really wanted.

It is now available from the iOS app store with an Android version due to be released in the coming weeks.

Laura Hindle, who is one of the team who invented the app, said, "I am so proud to see 'For Me' in the app store and hope it will really make a difference to people our age who are struggling.

"Our initial ideas for the app came about during a school lesson when we were thinking of ways to make technology benefit the community. 

"Watching the idea evolve into a reality has been quite a journey and it's great to see the finished product ready to help young people.

"Let's hope the app goes from strength to strength by offering invaluable support in such an accessible format."

Des Mannion, head of NSPCC Cymru / Wales, said, "Launching the 'For Me' app shows how we're continuing to capitalise on new technology to give children and young people the easiest possible access to Childline's free and confidential advice and support.

"Its' development will enable our younger generation to tap directly into Childline's expanding range of services through their mobile phone whenever and wherever they need our help."  

Childline founder Dame Esther Rantzen added, "We know hundreds of thousands of young people use our website for help and support, with more than half of those visits coming via mobile devices. Now young people can get immediate access to our counsellors through this brilliant, innovative app.

"Every young person will at last be able to tell Childline 'This app is really what I needed. This is 'For Me'."

Childline is available for young people online, on the phone, anytime.

If you or someone you know needs help or support you can contact Childline on 0800 1111 or visit https://www.childline.org.uk for help and support.

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