The number of schools in England buying in professional mental health support for pupils has nearly doubled in three years, a new report reveals.

In 2019 two-thirds (66%) of school leaders said they provided school-based support for students’ emotional and mental wellbeing, including counsellors.

This is compared to 36 per cent in 2016, according to the survey, by the National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT).

Stepping in early

Our Children, Young People and Families lead Jo Holmes said: “It’s fantastic to see that more schools are seeing the importance of school counselling – and are investing in it. By doing so they are stepping in early which can help towards the positive future mental health and wellbeing of their pupils.

“But there are still too many schools across England who are struggling to meet the mental health needs of young people.

Depleted budgets

“The government has failed to secure much-needed ring fenced funding to support schools in this important area. Instead each school is left to juggle already depleted budgets to ensure individual children and young people receive the professional counselling help they so desperately need.

“The promises in the government’s green paper to improve children and young people’s mental health are not enough.  While ‘trailblazer areas’ may provide mental health support for young people, there is a still a postcode lottery in England.

Transform lives

“School counselling is not normally part of the package on offer through trailblazer scheme. But it is great to see when there are exceptions to this, for instance in Gloucester where school counselling is offered by the TIC+ service and funded through the local clinical commissioning group’s Trailblazer scheme. In this example, mental health support teams refer directly into the counselling service, with no additional costs to the schools. We need this sort of system to be in place more widely across the country.

“We’re calling for a funded counselling services available in every school, provided by qualified, paid counsellors who specialise in working with children and young people. This is an essential service that schools so urgently need and can transform the lives of pupils.”