Pupils across the city could soon receive more counselling support as part of a pilot scheme announced by the council.

A total of £200,000 has been allocated for the school counselling scheme in the council’s budget for the next financial year.

Details of the project, including which schools would be involved in the pilot, are still to be determined.

It comes after years of campaigning from parents and teachers across the city to address fears over the mental health of young people.

Council leader Bella Sankey said: “There are increasing struggles among younger people with their mental health. That has reached a crisis point - and I think you’ve seen a lot of coverage over recent months about the impact this is having on attendance in school.

“The evidence we’ve also heard from teachers, headteachers and students themselves is that the impact of Covid is having quite long-lasting effects.

“As a Labour administration, we are here to invest in our young people. We want to bring down inequality in the city and ensure that every child born in Brighton and Hove can grow up in dignity and thrive and reach their full potential.

“We think a key way to try and deliver on that is to ensure that schools have additional mental health support in place - so what we’re proposing in this budget and what we have found funds to be able to deliver is a pilot project that would allow a certain cohort of children to have access to counselling sessions or other mental health intervention.

“We know as a party that prevention is better than a cure, so this is part of our effort to try and support our younger people to stay in school, to attain and to go on to live happy and fulfilling lives.”

Campaign group Brighton and Hove Citizens praised the decision, after parents and teachers had encouraged the council to back such a project for several years.

Grainne Bryd, a member of the senior leadership team at Cardinal Newman and one of the leaders of Brighton and Hove Citzens, said: “Our alliance has been campaigning on issues of mental health for three years and we welcome the Labour group’s commitment to fund counselling across the city.

“In December, Cllr Sankey told us clearly that ‘it would mean a lot to turn the tide on the mental health crisis as it is at the top of our list’.

“She also told us that the responsibility falls to her and her team to use their power to turn the tide.

“This budgetary commitment is a step in the right direction and we congratulate the Labour group for their bold approach.

“We look forward to working with council officials to ensure that, in due course, all schools and colleges across our city benefit from this much-needed support.”

The announcement came as the council outlined more than £30 million in savings due to a budget black hole.

Proposals include cuts to council jobs, with around 75 people at risk of being made redundant.