JACKIE Doyle-Price, MP for Thurrock, showed her support for improving children’s mental health services by attending the NSPCC’s Are You There? parliamentary reception on Monday.
With the Government’s public consultation on its green paper proposals for children’s mental health support due to close on 2 March, the charity’s event meant MPs were able to discuss the increasingly important role that Childline plays in the mental health landscape.
The event was hosted in the House of Commons on Monday 26 February, where founder of Childline Dame Esther Rantzen revealed the service had delivered 101,454 counselling sessions on mental and emotional health issues in the last year alone.
Dame Esther stressed the urgency for investment in Childline as she told politicians and other key stakeholders how two thirds of Childline counselling sessions take place outside school hours, and that children often use Childline as a means of early mental health support.
Some children have told counsellors they are being directed to contact Childline after normal working hours by statutory services, such as child and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS) or local authority children’s services in England.
This shows the need for additional out-of-hours support, and is just one of the factors contributing to the huge demand for support from Childline. Currently counsellors can only respond to 3 out of 4 children who need their help.
Jackie Doyle-Price heard from several young people who had benefitted from Childline after suffering from mental health issues, ranging from depression to anxiety.
Barbara Keeley, Shadow Minister for Mental Health and Social Care also spoke at the event and stressed the importance of a mental health support system that is accessible for all children and young people, as well as adequate funding for voluntary services, like Childline, that can provide early support for children.
The public can get behind the NSPCC’s children’s mental health campaign, Are you there? by signing a petition to encourage Government to increase funding to Childline before 2 March.
The funding will help to recruit more counsellors, deliver training to help manage the increased complexity of counselling sessions, and help provide more online resources for children and young people.
It costs £4 for a counsellor to answer a child’s call for help to Childline.