New figures that show a rise in the number of young people experiencing mental health problems underline the need for investment in schools counselling, says our Children, Young People and Families Lead.

A report published today by NHS Digital found one in six children and young people were likely to have a mental health problem. This is compared to one in nine in their 2017 survey.

Jo Holmes, our Children, Young People and Families Lead, said the figures emphasise the need for children to have access to a school counsellor.


We’re campaigning for a paid counsellor to be available in every secondary school, academy and FE college in England. It would bring England into line with the other nations of the UK, which have a commitment to fund school counselling services.

And Jo said: “These figures have confirmed our fears on the impact the pandemic has had, and continues to have, on children and young people’s mental health.

“We have to take note. We have to act.

“Easy access to professionally delivered in-house school counselling provision has to be part of the recovery plan in response of this current crisis, and it is a crisis.

“Schools need financial support to invest in sustainable on-going counselling provision which becomes embedded within every day school life.

“Our nation’s children and young people have a right to this service, we need to make it as easy as possible for them to get the help they so desperately need.”

The figures are in a new report from NHS Digital and the Office for National Statistics, which surveyed 3,570 young people aged between five and 22 living in England in July.

Immediate action

Anne Longfield , Children's Commissioner for England, said: “This dramatic increase in the number of children struggling with mental health problems, worsened by the Covid crisis, is extremely alarming. It should shock the Government into immediate action to tackle a growing epidemic.

“While there have been some welcome improvements in children's mental health services over recent years, clearly the scale of the problem is getting worse, and what has been promised is  just not enough.

“The NHS will have to upscale radically its plans for children's mental health just to meet its existing commitments.

“Every school needs an NHS funded counsellor as a minimum, and we need a children's mental health service that is properly funded, with no postcode lottery, so that children receive the support and treatment they need as quickly as possible.”

Emma Thomas, chief executive of YoungMinds, added: “This alarming research shows the profound effect that Covid-19 has had on children and young people's mental health.

“This research must lead to decisive action from the Government. Schools urgently need additional funding to enable them to commission mental health support, and the NHS and charities must have the resources to provide help to all those who need it. With months of uncertainty ahead of us, there is absolutely no room for complacency.”