Fund mental health counselling in schools, says LGA

18 May 18

Schools need more funding to deal with a “worrying” rise in demand for child mental health services, the Local Government Association has said.

The LGA was responding to NSPCC research that found referrals from schools to mental health services increased by a third between 2014-15 and 2017-18.

Richard Watts, chair of the LGA’s children and young people board, said: “These worrying findings reinforce our call for councils and schools to be given the funding to offer independent mental health counselling so pupils have access to support as and when they need it.

“Providing just a small proportion of the funding the government is spending on mental health support nationally on school counselling is one way the government can ensure every child and young person enjoys the bright future they deserve.”

Information obtained by the NSPCC under Freedom of Information legislation showed that, on average, 183 referrals were made per school day in 2017-18.

More than half (56%) of the referrals came from primary schools.

NSPCC chief executive Peter Wanless said: “We have seen a marked increase in counselling about mental health, and fully expect it to continue.

“It is vital that government urgently provides more funding to Childline and help children who don’t have access to support elsewhere.”

A government spokesperson said: “We are allocating £300m, over and above the additional £1.4bn being invested in specialist services, to provide more support linked to schools.”

The government has also extended a schools and NHS link pilot, a programme to deliver mental health training to schools, in 20 more areas of the country this year.

A joint select committee report recently criticised the government’s green paper on child mental health for lacking ambition.

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