Too few school nurses to tackle mental health crisis

RCN congress voted to lobby UK governments to invest in services that promote emotional well‑being
Corina Christos

A continuing lack of nurses in schools will worsen the crisis in child mental health.

Corina Christos
Corina Christos speaking at RCN congress in Glasgow. Picture: John Houlihan

This was the view of RCN congress in Glasgow last month as members voted unanimously to lobby UK governments to invest in services that promote emotional well‑being and mental health in children and young people.

The resolution was made by children and young people staying healthy forum member and Lambeth school nurse team leader Corina Christos. She told delegates: ‘Children are less well equipped than ever to deal with problems, learn from them and move on.

‘Rates of depression have risen 40% in teenagers over the past 25 years and 1 in 5 15-year-olds have self-harmed.’


The RCN is calling for urgent investment in school nursing to help tackle mental health problems in children. According to the Centre for Mental Health charity, at least 3 children in every classroom are affected by mental health problems. 

An RCN survey of 277 school nurses found that 68% thought services in their areas are insufficient, 70% struggle to cope with workloads, 28% work over their contracted hours every day, 30% said administration takes up most of their time, and 39% said they have insufficient resources.

General secretary Janet Davies said: ‘Only by investing in school nursing and wider mental health services can this crisis be tackled.’

The number of school nurses in England has fallen by 10% since 2010 to 2,700 for more than 9 million pupils.