ChatBus Trust chairwoman Jo Rowe said the trust board had conducted a thorough review of the counselling service’s financial situation.
"It is with heavy hearts and great sadness that the board of ChatBus children’s counselling services has decided to close the service."
Primary and intermediate school children had been able to access counselling services in buses that travelled between participating schools.
Rising costs brought on by increased demand had ultimately proven untenable for the service, which had not been able to secure sustainable funding arrangements, Ms Rowe said.
"Although the Government has announced increases in funding for mental health services in recent times, this funding has not flowed through to front-line services in a way that would meet the need the service is seeing," Ms Rowe said.
The rising costs meant the service would not be able to meet its employment and contractual obligations in the short term.
As a result the decision was made that the service would no longer be available to schools as of term 1 this year.
Letters had been sent to affected schools informing them of the decision.
Ms Rowe said the board was aware ChatBus provided an important service to many children.
Where possible, its counsellors would try to refer children who needed further counselling to appropriate services, but this could be limited in scope, she said.
"The counsellors have told me many stories of what they’re dealing with, worrying that there’s only a couple of services that we’ll be able to refer these children to, and they’re already past capacity."
ChatBus Trust board member Greg Wansink said there was huge demand for the service, which ultimately was its downfall.
"We were at 28 schools as it is, with more wanting to get on board, but we just couldn’t get the funding."
The Government needed to provide funding for existing services, he said.
"There needs to be something there in place for the kids. They are our future and they need our help now," Mr Wansink said.
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