The Labour Party has launched its manifesto with a pledge to recruit 3,500 qualified counsellors to guarantee every child access to a school counsellor, reflecting a key BACP General Election ask.

It is part of an £845 million plan by Labour for Healthy Young Minds that will more than double the annual spending on children and adolescent mental health services, including establishing a network of open-access mental health hubs to enable more children to access mental health.

We have lobbied all parties about providing counsellors in all schools and have supplied them with costings to show how this could work.

Essential roles

Jo Holmes, our Children, Young People and Families Lead, said: “We are delighted the Labour Party has pledged to fund up to 3,500 trained counsellors in schools across England, particularly welcoming the recognition of a qualified counselling workforce to provide these essential roles.

“We provided costings for counsellors employed both within secondary schools or commissioned via the third sector, the emphasis being on embedding ring-fenced money to provide a specialist workforce to meet the psychological needs of children and young people at a time and place most suitable to them.

“Our Public Perception Survey earlier this year found that 72% of people believe schools should offer counselling. The figure increased to 79% for parents who have children aged under 18.

“Our findings show the importance people place on schools investing in children’s mental health and wellbeing by providing counsellors and it’s very welcome that politicians are listening,” she added.

Labour has also committed to improving access to psychological therapies for all adults, another BACP ask. It is part of a wider £1.6 billion a year package of measures aimed at improving mental health outcomes outlined in the manifesto.

Parity of esteem

And Labour has pledged to ensure that "new standards for mental health are enshrined in the NHS constitution”, another key BACP manifesto policy which aims to ensure that access to mental health treatments is on a par with that for physical health conditions.

We’ve contacted all parties with our key manifesto asks. They have been published as part of our new dedicated election web pages.

The web pages include information on what you can do to engage your local General Election candidates to help us protect and promote counselling across the country.

This will include some handy guides, alongside questions that you can put to your election candidate, either in writing or if they knock on your door.

And if you are on social media, use the hashtag #StandUpForCounselling to join in the conversation and see what fellow members are saying.

We will be publishing the commitments relating to counselling and mental health from all parties as announcements are made and manifestos are published. Read our response to the Green Party and Liberal Democrat manifestos.