Government’s schoolkids’ mental health failure demands answers

The Government must front up and explain why its $75.8 million initiative to put more guidance counsellors in schools to cope with increasing mental health issues among children has seemingly achieved nothing, says National’s Mental Health and Suicide Prevention spokesperson Matt Doocey.

“I have been approached by school principals who have told me they have been stonewalled by the Government and the Ministry of Education in accessing this funding.

“At a time of increased mental distress in our young people as a result of ongoing Covid restrictions, some schools have actually had to either let counsellors go or reduce their hours.

“Once again, Labour has been caught talking out both sides of its mouth on mental health. The Government says one thing in public but something very different behind closed doors.

“This is absolute negligence and heads should roll. Labour promised to transform the mental health system, instead it has failed to deliver on providing valuable mental health support to our children.

“While we’re still in the grip of the pandemic, school counsellors could have been a game-changer in responding to increased anxiety and uncertainty.

“What were they thinking? To have only spent $6 million of the promised $75.8 million after announcing the funding 15 months ago, and to have no knowledge of how many - if any –  school counsellors have actually been engaged beggars belief.

“We need an explanation about what’s gone wrong and what the Government plans to do to fix it. The mental health of our kids is too important to ignore.”