A pilot school-based counselling service could be introduced for Year 9 students for the start of the new academic year.

It would be aimed at providing young people in Brighton and Hove who have difficulty accessing learning due to their mental health with additional counselling support.

If agreed by councillors, Brighton and Hove City Council will work with headteachers and key staff to introduce the service in time for the start of the school year in September.

The service, which comes in response to a campaign from the Brighton and Hove Citizens group to improve mental health support in schools, would sit alongside and increase the current mental health and wellbeing support available to children in the city’s state schools.

A total of £200,000 has been allocated in the budget for the pilot.

Councillor Jacob Taylor, who co-chairs the council’s children, families and schools committee, said: “The evidence is clear that the number of students struggling with their mental health and wellbeing has increased in recent years.

“This is having a devastating impact on school attendance and attainment across the country and proving a barrier to our children and young people enjoying a happy, healthy and fulfilling start to life.

“Our schools' mental health service provides our most vulnerable young people with support but, like many mental health services across the UK, these services are stretched to capacity.

“We’re aiming for the pilot to provide additional counselling support for young people in our schools who have difficulty accessing learning due to their mental health.

“We’re keen to work with our schools to set up the pilot for Year 9 students to make sure young people have access to the right services when they need it most.”

A 2022 public health report on mental health and wellbeing in the city showed that Brighton and Hove school pupils with social, emotional and mental health needs are higher than the average for England.

The pilot will be evaluated throughout the course of the year and will inform how to continue offering emotional wellbeing support in schools.

Councillors will discuss the plans at a meeting next Thursday.