The Local Government Association is urging funding for all schools to provide mental health counselling for pupils.
Every secondary school in the country should be provided with funding to enable them to provide independent mental health counselling to all pupils, says the LGA, raising fears that children and young people are being forced to wait up to 18 months for vital support.
Cllr Richard Watts, Chair of the LGA’s Children and Young People Board, said: “No child or young adult should have to wait 18 months for vital support and guidance. Many young people might not have needed formal social care support if they had received the early help they needed.”
The LGA, which represents 370 councils in England and Wales, says the government has pledged a total of £1.7 billion to promoting, protecting and improving children and young people’s mental health and wellbeing. They are urging 5 per cent of this funding - £90 million – to be used to make it mandatory for every pupil in secondary and alternative education provision, to have access to on-site school counselling services.
The average waiting time for children and young people to access mental health services range from 14 to 200 days. Between 70-75 per cent of young people experiencing a mental health problem not able to access any treatment, due to reasons such as lack of early intervention services and stigmas around asking for help. Providing on-site school counselling services in every school would help ensure children can access the support as early as they need without having to go on a waiting list.
Cllr Watts added: “Providing just a small proportion of the funding it is spending on mental health support nationally to ensure every school provides on-site counselling, is one way the Government can ensure every child and young person enjoys the bright future they deserve.
“Mental health problems are very common and not something children should feel ashamed about. Good emotional health and wellbeing is also about learning to be resilient to life’s setbacks and negative emotions.
“They may be facing personal problems outside of school that they feel that they are unable to talk to somebody about or in the current climate, it could be that they are seeking reassurance to cope with modern stresses such as social media pressures, sexual exploitation and negative body image,” he added.