This month, we’ve started a campaign on change.org. We want raise awareness on the need for provision of counselling services in primary and secondary schools across the UK. In the five days since posting the campaign ‘Make it mandatory for every UK school to provide counselling for children and young people’ we have nearly 4.5k signatures, which is amazing but we still need many more! You can view and sign our campaign here.
What we’re asking for
We’re asking the government to place a qualified paid counsellor in every primary and secondary school in the UK.
Sounds simple enough? It is!
‘But what are the stumbling blocks?’, I hear you ask.
Well, all seemed to be moving in the right direction when the Government released a consultation on children’s mental health provisions in December 2017. In July 2018, they responded with an outcome ‘Transforming children and young people’s mental health provision: a green paper’ which you can read here. They had over 2700 responses – probably from all of CTUK membership?!
This is what they initially proposed & the outcome…
- To incentivise and support all schools and colleges to identify and train a Designated Senior Lead for mental health.
Outcome: They will start training people in September 2019.
- To fund new Mental Health Support Teams, which will be supervised by NHS children and young people’s mental health staff.
Outcome: They will fund Mental Health Support Teams via Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs), and expect schools, colleges and other local partners to have a central role in the application process and in designing and leading delivery.
- To pilot a four-week waiting time for access to specialist NHS children and young
people’s mental health services.
Outcome: From 2018, pilot areas will seek to start planning for and then providing access to evidence-based treatment on average within four weeks.
…with a commitment to run pilots and roll out their new approach to at least a fifth to a quarter of the country by the end of 2022/23.
So perhaps up to a QUARTER of the country will have these services in the next FOUR or FIVE years!! Really??
Read the full green paper for yourself here. And get ready to shout out. With frustration. With anger. With rage!
What our Government seems to be ignoring is that we are in the midst of a mental health crisis. Yes, ignoring. They are perfectly aware but chose to ignore! This crisis is affecting many children and young people.
All the stats are in our campaign and fully referenced:
- 1 in 10 (850,000) children and young people have a diagnosable mental health condition.
- It is thought that 1 in 12 children persistently experience auditory hallucinations
- Suicide is the 2nd leading cause of death in 15-29-year olds, globally
- In England, more young males than females die by suicide, with rates of 2.4 males to 1 female in under 20-year olds.
- Schools in England have made a total of 123,713 referrals for specialist help between 2014/15 and 2017/18. 56% of referrals came from primary schools.
- During 2017/18, there were an average of 183 referrals made per school day. The youngest child referred for help was three years old.
Get the picture? Our children are suffering. They need help. And they need it now.
And guess what??
As a starting point, imagine that every school in the UK had access to real therapeutic intervention? What if qualified counsellors were on site? What if they could provide therapy and work with the existing school infrastructure, such as a safeguarding team? What if they were there to support, improve and then maintain a child’s well-being, throughout their school career?
Having a qualified counsellor on site means having a qualified mental health professional on site to respond to a crisis in a timely and appropriate manner.
There are literally thousands of qualified counsellors – us!! – ready and able to take on such roles.
No need to train existing members of staff / teachers into dual roles. They have enough to be getting on with!
What we need the government to do – sooner rather than later!
- Make placing a qualified paid counsellor in every primary and secondary school a priority.
- Consult with counselling professionals (us!!) on how best to move forward and implement these services. There are a few models we can come up with.
- Support schools to provide a counselling service by using the money they would otherwise use to train or re-train staff to employ already trained counsellors.
Qualified counsellors can take positions with immediate effect and provide long term, evidence-based solutions.
So please get behind us. Share the campaign. Talk to your local MPs and schools. Share on social media. We’re ready to start a conversation and get things implemented really quickly.
Our children can’t keep waiting for a bureaucratic response that will change with Governments. We need something sustainable which amounts to a simple solution. Employ a qualified counsellor in each school!
Author: Dr Emma Radway-Bright
If you wish to discuss this article with Emma you can contact her at the following email address: Emma.INeedTherapy@gmail.com