Parentkind supports Citizens UK’s campaign for school-based counselling in English schools and colleges

18 May 2023
Supporting children’s mental health remains high on the agenda for many parents.

Parentkind has lent its full support to a campaign led by Citizens UK, which runs in partnership with the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP) the teachers’ union NASUWT and others. 

The campaign calls on the UK government to secure the statutory provision of school-based counselling in English schools and further education colleges. Parents, teachers and PTA volunteers can read more about supporting the campaign directly under the section How to get involved.

As a charity that represents the views of parents and carers, Parentkind has regularly researched parental concerns about the mental health of their child. Consistent worries came to light during the last decade in the annual Parent Voice Reports that use a large sample size to gauge a fully representative snapshot of parental opinion. Concerns about children’s mental well-being were exacerbated by the pandemic when there was considerable disruption to their learning. Not only that but there was a prolonged negative impact on their development as social beings when they were unable to socialise with friends and enjoy character-forming experiences that previous generations had taken for granted. 

Acknowledging that improving children’s mental health remains important to parents, the Parent Voice Report 2021 sought to understand what parents wanted to see prioritised to support their wellbeing in schools. The top three solutions out of a list of twelve were: 

  • Mental health support workers embedded in every school to provide timely support (34%)
  • Professional, age-appropriate counselling services available in school (33%)
  • Regular discussion of mental health issues in wider school life to help bring difficult issues out into the open (31%).

Parentkind research shows that parents agree with the aims of Citizens UK’s campaign in that they want to see additional mental health support services in schools. Parentkind’s Mental Health and Wellbeing report, which was published in 2022, concluded that intervention is needed urgently. Parents say that the support their child currently receives on mental health-related issues, including bullying, is not enough. 

In the Parent Voice Report 2021, 88% agreed that developing good mental health and wellbeing was an important area of focus for the curriculum at their child’s school. Out of those parents agreeing, 60% said that it was very important’, which was a higher very important’ score than any other option in the list. This means that parents are more likely to consider developing good mental health to be a very important’ part of the school curriculum than developing skills that are useful outside of school such as critical thinking, supporting pupils’ personal development by teaching life skills, preparing pupils to become responsible citizens and introducing pupils to a broad range of subjects. Mental health was also prioritised above physical health. 

Jason Elsom, the Chief Executive of Parentkind, says, Clearly, parents want mental health issues to be widely spoken about in schools. They want it to be included in the curriculum and they want more professional counselling services in schools for their children. There are many reasons for this, but not least that schools are generally safe and familiar environments for children and they trust the adults they know there. That is why Parentkind amplifies Citizens UK’s call to urge the UK Government to make the statutory provision of school-based counselling a reality for every child in England.” 

Parents and PTA volunteers: find out more about getting involved with or directly supporting the Citizens UK campaign by visiting the Citizens UK website.