'Children turning to internet for mental health advice': Children's Commissioner

Children are seeking mental health advice on the internet rather than speaking to their school nurse or GP, the Children's Commissioner for England Anne Longfield says.

Her claims follow a small survey of young people which revealed more than 60 per cent had done a general internet search on issues such as depression.

The Commissioner says the findings indicate that children do not have the confidence to go to the doctor with mental health issues and comes amid pledges by the Government to promote greater use of counsellers in schools.

"Every child knows if they are unwell with a stomach ache or hurt their leg, they go to the doctor or school nurse. Unfortunately they don't have that confidence when it comes to mental health. It is a rather desperate state of affairs when they would prefer to roam around the internet or ask a friend the same age for help first.

"GPs really need to think seriously about this and ask if they are doing enough. Should they have a GP in every practice who is a specialist in children's mental health, for example? Should they be advertising the fact that they are in a position to help within their surgeries?"

While acknowledging that there were some good websites, the Commissioner said it was a "matter of luck" whether or not children found them.

"Young people say they need information they can trust on the internet and drop-in support which is accessible, non-stigmatised and part of everyday life. Services such as clinics in youth centres and schools and school nurses are ideally placed to help provide this."