The Government this morning announced that it will invest $75.8 million to provide greater access to guidance counsellors for school students.
It is the first time counselling services have been extended to primary schools.
The announcement was made at Snells Beach Primary School by Associate Education Minister Tracey Martin.
Ms Martin said the decision stemmed from her time on the school boards at Warkworth School and Mahurangi College
She said previously, primary school students had to travel to Auckland to access government funded counselling but the new money would be used locally and accessed through schools.
The funding includes $31.8 million over four years for large secondary schools, including Mahurangi College, to employ guidance counsellors and other pastoral care staff.
This will result in an increase of around 90 full-time equivalent guidance counsellors across secondary schools nationally.
Snells Beach School principal Kathryn Ramel said the announcement was welcomed and overdue.
“If we can address these types of problems early in a child’s life then those issues don’t turn into big ones,” Ms Ramel says.
“If it was a broken leg, we would take care of it immediately, and we need to think the same way about mental health.”
She says the modern pace of life has contributed to an increase in anxiousness among children.
A further $44 million will be made available over four years to contract local community organisations to provide guidance counselling to both primary and secondary school students. Schools most affected by Covid-19 will be prioritised.
"Many community organisations have valuable skills in counselling for children and young people impacted by anxiety, stress, depression and disengagement. This funding will help students access these services, which are in high demand, especially given the impacts of Covid-19."