Distressed children made 800,000 calls to Childline last year - an increase of 25% on 2008.

The organisation says that more than one in three of the calls, which equates to about 300,000, went unanswered in 2009.

Childline manager Lloyd Byrne says financial hardships due to the economic crisis, as well as the emotional strain of unemployment in the family, were partly to blame for the hike.

But issues like loneliness, anxiety, abuse, violence and neglect are still the main reasons why children called the 1800-666666 free phone number.