‘Dire need’ for school counselling service funds
School counselling service funds are badly over-stretched, the Association of Counsellors is warning.
Some schools are coping – like eight Catholic schools in Dunedin – but only after stretching out their hands to their communities.
They’re now getting funded by the Mercy Charitable Outreach Fund. Meanwhile, Catholic Social Services is helping support the service with management and structure.
But they’re the exception.
Dunedin’s other 23 schools have had to scrape together funds from a variety of places says India Hughes-Chang from ChatBus South. Many still don’t have a service available.
More funding from the Government is vital for the “ambulance at the top of the cliff” to be available to young people, she stresses.
“As an association we’ve been very concerned about the mental health of secondary school students for many years …” says the Association of Counsellors’ president Sarah Maindonald.
She says the Association has lobbied the Government to increase and tag the staffing so there’s a counsellor available in every school in the country.
“We’re looking to have a ratio of one counsellor to every 400.
“At the moment, it’s very inequitable across the country. Sometimes there’s a counsellor for every 1400 students and one to 2000, which is actually a risk.”
Counsellors are leaving the profession because of increasing job-related stress, Maindonald says.
She hopes the incoming Government follows through on commitments to improving mental health services and does not get sidetracked into exploring alternatives.
“It’s really simple. To have universal access for counselling in schools you add counselling to staffing and you tag it” she said, explaining that would ensure the funding could not be used for other purposes.
“If the government tagged counselling to staffing with a ratio of one to 400 that would make a real difference for youth mental health.”
Maindonald said it would cost about $66.5 million to bring the number of school counsellors to 700 and meet the 1:400 ratio.
Post-Covid 19, counsellors say they are also seeing more cases of anxiety and depression.
News category: New Zealand.
https://cathnews.co.nz/2023/11/09/dire-need-for-school-counselling-service-funds/ ‘Dire need’ for school counselling service funds CathNews NZ