Thank you to everyone who has supported our campaign to continue funding for Northern Ireland’s Healthy Happy Minds school counselling service.
We’ve seen a huge swell of support from for our members and politicians, with representatives from all parties speaking out about the need to save the vital programme.
More than 4,700 emails have been sent so far to MPs and MLAs through our online portal, with almost 1,000 people signed up to the campaign.
However, today the Department of Education has confirmed that funding will end for the service that has made a positive difference in children’s lives since 2021.
We will continue campaigning to improve access to school counselling and other creative therapy interventions for children in Northern Ireland as well as across England, Scotland and Wales too.
We’re now planning to write a joint-letter to Northern Ireland Secretary Chris Heaton-Harris MP, along with the British Association of Art Therapists (BAAT).
Our Children, Young People and Families Lead Jo Holmes said: “We’re devastated the Department of Education has confirmed the end of funding, but we will continue to campaign on behalf of children, their families and our members.
“We know the powerful message about the positives of this pilot and the importance of investing in school counselling and other creative therapy interventions has been heard loud and clear by politicians from all parties and we hope this will have an impact on future funding decisions.
“We’ll continue fighting for future funding and to ensure children and their families receive vital counselling support. We also remain concerned for the therapists who have provided these essential counselling interventions and who now face their own financial uncertainty.”
“A huge thank you to everyone who has played their part in this campaign. We’ve had a fantastic response and have been delighted to see such strong cross-party support.”
On Wednesday, Jo and our members Edith Bell and Caryl Sibbett, who also represents BAAT, attended the Northern Ireland Assembly’s All Party Group of Mental Health. This group includes mental health spokespeople from all the main parties.
They presented the case for why Healthy Happy Minds should continue and explained the budget needed for it to continue, and what positives that would bring.
The meeting resulted in the MLAs agreeing to write a letter on behalf of the All Party Group to the permanent secretary Mark Browne to ask for a further extension of the programme.
Healthy Happy Minds has provided access to counselling and other therapy interventions – including art, music, drama, and play therapy – in 566 primary schools.
But it was revealed two weeks ago that funding will end on 31 March and the programme will cease, because of budget pressures.
We called on people in Northern Ireland to back our campaign to urge the Department of Education to secure this vital service and extend the funding.
If you want to show your MP and MLA your feelings on the scheme you can still use our online tool, which makes it easy for you to email your MLA and MP a template message.
Our campaign is supported by the British Association of Art Therapists (BAAT). Together, we represent more than 3,000 therapists in Northern Ireland.
Support our campaign to continue funding of Healthy Happy Minds
The end of the scheme will leave children in Northern Ireland without vital support
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