Family hubs to help thousands of parents cope with the challenges of family life must include access to counselling.

That’s the view of Jo Holmes, our Children, Young People and Families Lead, as she responded to Government plans for the roll out of 75 hubs across the country to provide early help and support for families and their children.

The hubs will act as a one-stop shop to offer guidance and advice on a range of circumstances including, infant feeding, mental health support, health visits and parenting classes.

They will bring together wider wraparound services that can make a difference to people who need extra support – such as advice on getting into work, relationship building and stop smoking services.

Funded counselling

And Jo said it should also include access to funded, in-hub counselling or signposting to local counselling provision.

Jo said: “Family hubs can provide a non-judgemental space for people to get the support they need to deal with the pressures of being a parent or raising a family – and that needs to include access to counselling.

“We know from our own research that the pandemic and the rising cost of living have had an impact on parents’ mental health.

“Our Public Perceptions Survey found that 74% of parents of school-age children said their mental health has been affected by the pandemic while 26% say they’re not sure if they can provide for their family because of the cost of living crisis.

“So it’s essential that one-stop shops in the heart of communities provide early help support for families and their children with a range of mental health support, including access to or signposting to free at the point of access local counselling provision.”

Fund the Hubs campaign

Jo said the family hubs were distinct from the early support hubs for young people that we’ve been calling for as part of the Fund the Hubs campaign.

Launched by Youth Access in partnership with YoungMinds, Mind, The Children’s Society and the Children and Young People’s Mental Health Coalition, the campaign urges the Government to set up a nationwide network of hubs to provide early support for young people’s mental health.

Jo said: “The hubs to support young people’s mental health that we’ve been campaigning for are separate to the planned family hubs – but both can play vital roles in improving the nation’s mental health as we tackle the ongoing cost of living crisis and the consequences of the pandemic.”