After campaigning for better mental health support for children, John has welcomed a pledge to put counsellors in schools.

The MP’s survey of local schools in 2018 found nearly all had seen mental health worsen.

He took local headteachers to see the schools minister, which helped win £1.7m from the government for extra mental health support in schools.

John said: “The number of children experiencing mental health problems is increasing, and I know through constituency casework how hard parents find getting help.

“Our mental health services are stretched to breaking point and have long waiting lists.”

More than a third of children referred to mental health services were turned away last year.

Many more kids are being referred to Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) and some are waiting years for treatment.

At the Labour Party conference in Brighton this week, leader Keir Starmer guaranteed access to mental health treatment in less than a month for all who need it.

Labour’s plans would see an expansion of the mental health workforce and unprecedented investment in children’s mental health after the disruption of the pandemic.

Mr Starmer said Labour would:

  • Guarantee mental health treatment within a month for all who need it
  • Recruit 8,500 new staff so that one million additional people can access treatment every year
  • Put an open access mental health hub for children and young people in every community, providing early intervention, drop-in services
  • Provide specialist mental health support in every school – a full-time mental health professional in every secondary school and a part time professional in every primary
  • Give mental health its fair share of funding

The current crisis in mental health services means two in five patients waiting for mental health treatment are forced to contact emergency or crisis services prior to receiving treatment, with one in ten ending up in A&E.

A quarter of adults who had to wait after their initial assessment did not begin treatment for three months or more.

The waits for children’s mental health services have been described as “agonising” by the Chief Executive of the Young Minds charity, with a BBC FOI revealing 20% of children are waiting more than 12 weeks to be seen.

Labour will fund the new measures by closing tax loopholes for private equity fund managers and removing the VAT exemption from private schools.

Mr Starmer said: “One of the urgent needs of our time is mental health. Labour will guarantee that support will be available in less than a month and offer treatment to a million more people each year who need it.

“We’ll make sure children and young people get early help, putting specialist support in every school and a mental health hub in every community.

“This is prevention in action. Helping young people, looking after their well-being.”