Nearly four in five parents want children to have access to counselling in schools, according to a new poll.
In the survey for the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy, 79 per cent of parents with children aged under 18 said they believed schools should offer counselling – and 72 per cent of all adults agreed.
“There’s a mental health crisis affecting our young people – school counselling can play a crucial role in tackling this,” Jo Holmes, BACP’s children, young people and families lead, said.
“Our survey findings show the importance people place on schools investing in children’s mental health and wellbeing by providing counsellors. We need the government and education funders to see this as a priority as well.”
The survey of 5,731 adults was carried out by YouGov.
One in eight children and young people have had mental health difficulties, according to NHS figures published last year.
And the BACP is now calling for counselling to be available in every school.
Protecting pupils' mental health
Department for Education figures show that currently 61 per cent of schools in England offer counselling services, with 84 per cent of secondary schools providing their pupils with access to counselling support.
But BACP said that England was lagging behind the rest of the UK: Wales has statutory provision of school counselling for all secondary school-age children and Northern Ireland has a national school-based counselling programme.
Scotland announced last year that it is to invest £60 million over the next four years in providing counsellors in schools.
Anne Longfield, the children’s commissioner for England, has also called for counselling in all schools, arguing that it would be “transformative”.
Jillian Hyde, headteacher of Ince CE Primary School in Wigan, Greater Manchester, has professional counsellors available for pupils in her school.
She said: “I think it is essential that there is money within primary school budgets to pay for counselling.
“Our children have told us how our professional counsellors have helped them. Parents have praised the service that their children receive. Staff have observed the positive impact that the counselling has had on the children in their classes.
“Children’s social and emotional needs have to be addressed so that they have every opportunity to reach their full potential.”
A DfE spokesperson said: “Mental health is just as important as physical health, and should be treated as such.
“That is why the education secretary has made children's mental health a key priority for this government; and through our new compulsory health education all children will be taught how to look after their mental wellbeing and recognise when classmates are struggling.
“We are also investing more in mental health support – with an additional £2.3 billion a year being spent by 2023-24. This means that by 2023-24 an extra 345,000 children and young people up to the age of 25 will benefit from a range of services, including new support teams that will provide additional trained staff to work directly with schools and colleges.”