Newcastle North MP Catherine McKinnell has called on the Government to fund school-based mental health provision during a debate in Parliament.
Catherine spoke of her support for counselling in schools during a debate called by her constituency neighbour, Rt Hon Nick Brown MP.
She highlighted statistics that suggest girls face a much steeper increase in mental health issues as they move through secondary school and that “by the end of secondary school girls have almost twice as many contacts with mental health services than boys.”
Acknowledging the statistics could also potentially show a reluctance by boys to come forward for support, but either way they support calls for increased provision of school-based counselling services, as the increase, Catherine commented “could have potentially been avoided if we had proper counselling in schools.”
Responding to Catherine’s comments, Rt Hon Nick Brown MP – who was leading the debate – agreed stating that it “is right to make the point and also right to say the roots of this…in the city we both represent are to be found in deprivation and in poverty.”
Following the debate, Catherine added:
“The steep increase in mental health challenges that pupils, especially girls, face in school is extremely worrying.
“I know schools would love to have their own counsellors in place to support pupils in need. However, the Government’s lacklustre Covid catch-up package for schools, and 10 years of education funding cuts under Conservative Governments means not every school can afford to do this.
“Funding that vital support in schools would ensure that pupils get the help needed early, reducing the burden on mental health support services and helping our children live happier, healthier lives”.
Catherine was highlighting analysis on gender differences in mental health issues recently covered by FFT Education DataLab: https://ffteducationdatalab.org.uk/2021/11/how-do-mental-health-problems-vary-during-secondary-school/
According to the IFS, school spending per pupil in England fell by 9% in real terms between 2009–10 and 2019–20, the largest cut in over 40 years. The government has allocated an extra £7.1 billion for schools in England through to 2022–23. Whilst this will increase spending per pupil by over 8%, school spending per pupil in 2022–23 will still be 1–2% lower in real terms than in 2009–10: https://ifs.org.uk/publications/15588