Presenter: Mental health services are facing a staffing and resourcing crisis. That's according to a survey conducted partly by the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy.
The BACP supports its counsellors to help them better serve their clients and looks to demystify mental health treatment for all ages, as Nick Thatcher reports.
Nick Thatcher: Whatever your age and wherever you live, talking about your mental health can help transform your outlook and wellbeing. And it's the role of the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy to promote easier access to, and best practice in, the counselling services that can support you.
Dr Andrew Reeves, Chair, BACP: “BACP’s role is about ensuring that the public can receive an evidence-based counselling,know that when they go to see a counsellor their counsellor subscribes to a code of ethics, that they're accountable. That's what BACP is about, it’s ensuring the highest possible standards.”
Nick Thatcher: And BACP believes this philosophy should begin in the classroom, for nearly 80,000 children and young people in Great Britain are reported to be seriously depressed. And around three children in every class in the UK have a diagnosable mental health condition (Source: BACP 2015).
And yet counselling in schools has been shown to be a highly effective support for those who experience emotional health difficulties.
Student: “I’ve been in counselling for a while. When I first went in, obviously not the best place to be in, very depressed and a few other things. It's been really useful to me. I've improved a lot socially - social anxiety, social awkwardness, I’m now less so which led to me being confident in school, making more friends, being happier.”
Sandra Bell, Director and Senior Therapist, Time for You Psychological Services: “Counselling has made a huge difference to young people in the school in terms of their self-esteem, their motivation for learning, the relationships at home. And some of the comments on the feedback forms have literally been, you know, you, this service has saved my life.”
Nick Thatcher: The British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy believes counselling changes lives but whereas children and young people of school-age in Wales and Northern Ireland already have access to counselling services, the Association wants that access extended across the United Kingdom.
Linda Halbert, Executive Headteacher, Freeborough Academy and CEO, Teesside Learning Trust: “I do say to people that the counselling service is our fourth emergency service. It isn't all about academic achievement at school, and I understand what our core purpose is, but at the end of the day we need our young people to be happy and healthy, and, you know, mental health issues, particularly in this country, particularly amongst boys, have reached crisis point. And I think this is one area that schools can do a tremendous amount of good but they can't do it without significant funding and investment."
Nick Thatcher: But it's not just young people who can suffer - in England depression is said to affect nearly a quarter of men and more than a quarter of women aged 65 and over. And it's estimated that 85% of older people with depression received no help from the NHS (Source: Age UK). Many don't feel able to ask for that support or their mental health can often be overlooked as just another symptom of old age.
Martin Hogg, Citizen Coaching CIC: “I'm a firm believer that it's never too late to come to counselling, and particularly as the challenges of growing old could mean isolation, loneliness, a lot of sadness and bereavement, and maybe issues of stress, anxiety, depression. All of those things counselling could help with. And it's giving people that belief that counselling could make life better."
Nick Thatcher: Sandra Hinds may only be in her 50s but years of unexpected physical ill health meant she needed to be treated on life support in hospital. It was there she began counselling and her world changed as a result.
Sandra Hinds: “It was just such a relief to speak to somebody that wasn't a family member, that wasn't a friend. That I could just totally let go and tell them exactly how I was feeling."
Nick Thatcher: And your impression of what counselling or therapy was about changed as a result.
Sandra Hinds: “Absolutely. I feel that that therapist got me back to me, and I didn't know which way to turn and my angel saved me here."
Nick Thatcher: BACP believes counselling changes lives and from school to later life it should be available to all who need it.