Fewer than 50% of teachers say there is a school counsellor in their work place to support the mental health and well-being of pupils, research by the National Education Union has found.

The survey of more than 8,000 school leaders, teachers and support workers also revealed that 83%  of them  said mental health among pupils in England had deteriorated in the past two years. 

When asked what provisions there were in their workplace for supporting pupils with mental health issues only 49% of respondents said there was a counsellor in their school.

Some 30% said the school had external specialist support.

While 59% said their school had learning support assistants, 12% said there was a senior mental health lead and 12% said there was a trained mental health first aider.

Many teachers reported increases in the number of pupils with anxiety and who are self-harming. They also raised concerns about how exams and over-testing were impacting pupils’ mental health.

They told the survey that funding cuts in schools were making it harder to support pupils in need, and that there were fewer support staff available to do this.

BACP believes a paid counsellor should be available in every school.

Studies have shown that school counselling can lead to improvements in wellbeing and mental health, reduced levels of school exclusion and improved pupil attainment.

It’s an easily accessible, non-stigmatising and effective form of early intervention for reducing psychological distress.

BACP’s Children, Young People and Families lead Jo Holmes said:

“It’s worrying that so many distressed young people are being left without the therapeutic support in their school that they desperately need.  Teachers and school staff are witnessing the impact this has on young people’s lives. It’s time the Government listens.

“These survey results echo what we already know that counselling provision in England varies from school to school. We want to ensure consistent coverage so school counselling can have a transformative impact on a greater number of children and their families’ lives.

“With trained counselling professionals in schools to address mental health concerns, teachers and other school staff can focus on education. School counselling can help reduce referrals to CAMHS so those services can support those in need of more specialist help.”

“There is a highly trained and professional counselling and psychotherapy workforce who can play an important role in supporting young people’s mental health. We will continue to work with school leaders, education authorities and policy-makers to help make our call for a counsellor in every school a reality.”

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