A four nations approach is at the heart of our work. We aim to understand the needs of our members in each nations and reflect these in the services we offer and in our work to promote the counselling profession to decision makers and politicians across the four nations.

Northern Ireland

Despite the ongoing political uncertainty, we're actively campaigning to secure greater funding and support for counselling in Northern Ireland. We continue to engage with the Department of Health on implementation of the Mental Health Strategy, having successfully lobbied officials to ensure that the counselling workforce was recognised in the final draft.

Over the autumn, BACP and the British Association of Art Therapists (BAAT) met with the Education Minister, Michelle McIlveen to discuss improvements needed to the Health Happy Minds pilot. As a result of our lobbying this programme was extended to March 2023.

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We're looking forward to seeing the Scottish Government launch their new ten year Mental Health Strategy later this year. Our response to the recent consultation on this strategy was informed by dialogue with services and individual counsellors and psychotherapists across Scotland.

We're continuing to advise Scottish Government on their funded programmes to provide counselling in schools, colleges and universities, secured following lobbying by us and our partners in 2019. No firm decision has yet been announced on funding for college and university counselling beyond July 2023 and we're continuing to press the Minister for urgent clarification through our membership of the Student Mental Health and Wellbeing Working Group.

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This year we'll be undertaking dedicated work to engage the NHS in Wales at National and Board Level, with the aim of increasing counselling provision across the nation. This will also help inform our engagement in the Welsh Government’s plans to revise their mental health strategy, Together for Mental Health, later this year.

We're also looking towards the launch of a new Mental Health Workforce Plan, led by Health Education and Improvement Wales and Social Care Wales. We've engaged with the development of this to make the case that counselling and psychotherapy are represented within the plan. We'll also be advising on a ministerial review of school counselling provision, and our CYPF Lead Jo Holmes will join a research advisory group which will inform this review.

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Devolved England

We're focusing on improving recognition of counselling and psychotherapy with commissioners within the new integrated care systems (ICS), which we hope will lead to more paid opportunities for our members.

To strengthen our engagement in this area, we're continuing to sponsor the Health Devolution Commission (HDC). This cross party campaign group works to champion and support the successful implementation of devolved and integrated health and social care services across England. It comprises six former Health Ministers and is co-chaired by Andy Burnham, Major of Greater Manchester and former Labour Secretary of State for Health, and Norman Lamb former Lib Dem and Coalition Health Minster. A main focus of the HDC’s work this year will be influencing the Hewitt Review into ICSs. We'll have the opportunity to lead an HDC evidence session on mental health later in the spring.

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Read our latest updates in Policy news, Autumn 2022

If you would like to find out more about our four nation strategy, please email steve.mulligan@bacp.co.uk