Call to minister for mental health support

John Healey, Labour MP for Wentworth and Dearne.  Picture Tony Johnson.John Healey, Labour MP for Wentworth and Dearne.  Picture Tony Johnson.
John Healey, Labour MP for Wentworth and Dearne. Picture Tony Johnson.
Headteachers and politicians in Rotherham are to meet with Education Minister Nick Gibb today to press for greater mental health support in school.

Rising numbers of students are coming forward for help, they say, and additional support is needed to deal with mounting pressures.

MP John Healey, along with headteachers of Rawmarsh Community School, Kilnhurst Primary and Rotherham Aspire, are to call for greater Government investment.

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Key among the concerns raised is over access to counsellor services for students in need.

“It’s extremely important,” said Ryan Cousins, headteacher at Kilnhurst Primary. “More children are having mental health problems, and this is about us identifying these children early on and getting support for them quickly.

“The services that we work with are brilliant, but they are under pressure, which results in longer waiting times. Children in crisis are having to wait too long.

“We try and offer what we can, but we as headteachers and teachers are not trained counsellors. It’s about having that access.

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“Not every school can afford to get their own counsellor in place. And in some cases we need their support.”

The meeting follows a survey from Wentworth and Dearne MP Mr Healey, which found that three quarters of secondary schools and 80 per cent of primaries reported a rise in severity of students’ problems.

Mr Healey, who met with council and local healthcare executives, as well as headteachers last week, has also pledged to press the Minister to back Rotherham’s bid to NHS England to become a national trailblazer for mental health support in schools. If successful it would bring £1.6m for the borough over three years.

“My report shows we have a mental health crisis in our schools now, yet funding promised by the Chancellor in the latest budget is not due in full for another five years,” he said.

“Together we will tackle the Minister on speeding up national plans for schools mental health teams and making the money available much faster.”