Responding to the Covid-19 crisis

Our policy team, home-based because of the lockdown, has been helping to provide information and respond to members during the coronavirus crisis.

The team has supported the development of FAQs and responses to individual members’ emails. Topics included:

  • state support for self-employed members
  • key-worker status
  • working online with children and young people
  • members’ offers of voluntary work to support NHS staff

We've also led a powerful and successful campaign and online petition calling on all UK governments to recognise the importance of the counselling professions and to work with professional bodies to ensure support to the workforce.

The petition, signed by over 10,000 people was accompanied by an open letter, supported by 18 partner organisations and received support from parliamentarians across all four nations.

Temporary income protection fund

We joined organisations representing the UK’s five million self-employed and freelance workers in signing a letter to the Prime Minister regarding the support available to them during the pandemic. The letter, led by IPSE, the Association of Independent
Professionals and the Self-Employed, called on Boris Johnson to implement a temporary income protection fund to support the self-employed during the crisis.

The letter was accompanied by a petition which has received over 210,000 signatures.

EAP concerns

As the crisis worsened and it became unsafe to continue working face to face, many of our members contacted us to raise concerns about their EAP. These centred on the perceived unfairness of having no choice but to deliver counselling via telephone or online, and seeing their income drop by almost 75% as a result.

After consultation with members and EAPA, we approached Health Assured (HA) to put across concerns, noting that while their actions were not unethical or illegal, they lacked sensitivity given the current climate.

Following a review, and in the face of growing pressure, HA relented and announced it would honour the higher face-to-face rate to all affiliates.

We're also undertaking a programme of EAP related activity and have issued a call to members to share their experiences. 

Working with governments and stakeholders

Influencing Welsh policy priorities

Steve Mulligan attended a mental health policy event in the Welsh Assembly where he spoke to health contacts in Welsh Government and reconnected with core partners.

Steve met Andrea Gray (pictured), Mental Health Development Lead for Welsh Government, based at Improvement Cymru. She's supportive of our work to improve access to counselling and offered assurance psychological therapies are at the top of Welsh Government’s agenda.

Andrea Gray

Gambling Commission roundtable

We attended a roundtable discussion on reducing gambling-related harms. It offered stakeholders a chance to learn from partners about reducing harm and aimed to enable a coordinated approach in the future.

We’re exploring options to produce addiction competences and this work might fit with stakeholder goals to produce standards for therapists who work with addictions, such as gambling.


Maternal Mental Health Alliance

Suky Kaur attended the Maternal Mental Health Alliance (MMHA), a coalition of organisations with a vision that all women in the UK get consistent, accessible and quality care and support for their mental health during pregnancy and the year after giving birth.

Perinatal mental health has moved up the political agenda in recent years and funding has been allocated by governments in England and Wales for specialist mental health services. However, decisions about whether and how much money to invest is increasingly being taken at a local level.

The MMHA is campaigning to ensure local decision makers, providers and commissioners action the call.

National Suicide Prevention Alliance (NSPA) Annual Conference

Matt Smith-Lilley attended the NSPA annual conference at the Oval in London. The conference offers supporters of the NSPA’s work opportunity to discuss developments in suicide and self-harm prevention work over the previous year. We've been a member of the NSPA since its first meeting in 2011.

This year’s conference brought together talks from Louis Appleby, Government Advisor on Suicide Prevention, and a video message from Nadine Dorries, Under-Secretary of State for Mental Health, Suicide Prevention and Patient Safety, as well as powerful talks
from people with lived experience.

Find out more about the work of the Alliance.

NSPA conference

The NSPA conference

Engaging parliamentarians

Cesca Kirtley-Paine has been meeting parliamentarians across the political parties since the General Election to lobby for counselling and psychotherapy.

Cesca and Steve Mulligan met John Nicolson, Scottish National Party MP, to talk about the mental health of parliamentarians and their staff, and we’ve also met with Lib Dem Health Spokesperson, Murina Wilson MP.

Cesca has also met with Danny Kruger, the Conservative MP for Devizes, who wants to lean more about SCoPEd and our work with children, young people and families.

Cesca and Steve with John Nicolson

Cesca and Steve with John Nicolson

Gambling with Lives

Steve Mulligan attended a Stormont reception highlighting mental health support for people affected by gambling addiction. Supported by MLAs across the political spectrum, Robbie Butler, UUP Mental Health Lead, spoke about establishing a cross-party group on gambling addiction which will look at gaps in mental health support.

Presentation at Stormont

Children, young people and families

Giving evidence to the Scottish parliament

Jo Holmes appeared before Scottish Parliament’s Education Committee as part of its review of progress against the Scottish Government’s £60m investment in delivering 350 new school-based counsellors.

Witnesses questioned where the workforce is to supply adequate numbers of counsellors to fill the positions by September, and Jo used the opportunity to highlight work we have undertaken to help mitigate against a potential shortfall.

With support from Scottish Government, we’re in the process of supporting Scottish Qualifications Authority to develop a new Professional Development Award in Counselling Children and Young People based on our competency framework for working with children and young people.

Jo Holmes

Jo Holmes at the Scottish Parliament

Welsh School and Community Counselling Toolkit

Jo Holmes has worked closely with the Welsh Government and service providers to finalise the updated school and community counselling toolkit due to be launched shortly.

During this time she took the opportunity to visit Area 43 in Cardigan to showcase the good practice established with their collaborative approach with the local CAMHs Team.

Jo’s write up of the visit can be found in this blog linked to her newly launched Children, young people and families priorities page.

Jo Holmes at Area 43

Jo Holmes at Area43

Manchester schools and colleges programme

Jo Holmes visited 42nd Street, a service providing counselling and therapeutic support groups to children and young people in Greater Manchester. It offers provision as part of the mentally healthy schools and colleges programme.

Jo aims to showcase the work of their new mental health support teams in schools in part of one of the Government’s 25 trailblazing areas in England. She'll be evaluating the impact of counselling as part of this offer. 

42nd street logo

Bradford Counselling Collective

Jo Holmes is working with a new Bradford counselling collective, led by Alex Church (MBACP). Alex works for the local CCG on developing children and young people mental health support and has strategic oversight of the trailblazer area.

We plan to work with the project to capture the role of counselling and widen the CYP counselling across education and community

Find out more about our children, young people and families work



BACP champions flagship NHS counselling campaign

Matthew Smith-Lilley and Fiona Ballantine Dykes attended the launch of a campaign asking people for views on how psychological professions can have a greater impact in the NHS.

NHS England’s new Psychological Professions in Action campaign aims to bring the 12 psychological professions together to collaborate on a joint action plan for how we can promote psychological therapies and embed them throughout the healthcare system.

The first of three phases of the campaign ran until the middle of February, with the second phase beginning at the end of March.

Key to the campaign is engagement from practitioners. Find out more, including how to get involved on the PPS in Action website

Matt and Fiona at the launch

Matt and Fiona at the launch

National mental health learning showcase

Health Education England held their first national mental health learning showcase. 

The event brought together a range of stakeholders to find out about many of the mental health workforce projects currently taking place as part of the NHS Long Term Plan workforce development programme.

We've been heavily involved in many of the projects presented on the day including one on mental health careers in the NHS, specifically looking at barriers and challenges to people taking up careers in mental health.

We’ll continue to update on these projects as they develop, but if you have any questions please do get in touch.

Older people

Counselling in care homes

Jeremy Bacon has been working with research colleague Jo Pybis on our counselling in care homes project. We've recruited three
members and training's been delivered by project supervisor Danuta Lipinska. Placement of the therapists into the three care homes has been delayed, but the team remains in regular contact and will begin work in the homes as soon as it's safe to do so.

Team of counsellors

Joint resource with Dementia UK

Our members with experience of working with clients with dementia have been included in discussions with Dementia UK about producing a joint resource.

‘Counselling for people with dementia’ will be added to the extensive suite of information on offer by the charity, best known for its Admiral Nurses.

The resource incorporates our briefing on counselling for people with dementia. It will explain the value of talking therapies for people affected by a dementia diagnosis, with focus on new diagnoses as a time transition and adjustment.

Find out more about our older people work

Dementia UK logo


BACP and Working Well Coalition secure tax exemptions pledge

Through our work with the Working Well Coalition – led by the John Lewis Partnership – we've helped to secure a tax exemptions pledge from Chancellor Rishi Sunak.

We co-signed a letter to the Prime Minister asking him to commit to his promise to provide tax exemptions for businesses that support employees’ mental and physical health. We believe these xemptions will be vital in providing businesses an extra incentive to invest in workplace counselling.

Mr Sunak announced in his Spring Budget that Government will extend the scope of non-taxable counselling services when provided as part of an employer’s welfare counselling services. The cha ngestake effect from April 2020.

Meeting of the coalition

Health and Wellbeing at Work 2020: NEC Birmingham – 10–11 March

More than 200 delegates visited our stand at the Health and Wellbeing at Work Conference. The conference at the NEC is the largest event of its kind in the UK and provides an unrivalled opportunity to learn, network and promote the role of counselling in the workplace.

Our staff and divisional members spoke to representatives of blue light services, blue chip companies and Government keen to learn about the value of counselling and psychotherapy.

Kris Ambler represented us alongside our governor Andrew Kinder in a presentation on rural mental health and suicide in farming communities. The conference was a great success and helped strengthen our strategic partnership working while raising the profile of the counselling and psychotherapy workforce.

Find our more about our work with employers.

Event advert

Meeting our members

Listening to members in Northern Ireland

Steve Mulligan, Jeremy Bacon and BACP research colleague Duncan McCabe led a session with members in Northern Ireland to shape our response to the new NI mental health action plan and 10 year mental health strategy, expected to be published later this year.

With support from NICF and IACP we welcomed 25 members representing the 20 biggest counselling providers in Northern Ireland. Jeremy co-chaired the event with Rachel Johnson, from our Healthcare Division Executive and we were joined by NI representatives from our CYPF and Spirituality Division Executives. We continue to work with members to deliver agreed key messages. F

eedback from members was universally positive, and we were particularly pleased to see several quotes from attendees reflect on this new approach to engage members much more directly in our policy work. “Your staff are a credit to your organisation. They made us (in NI) feel valued and listened to.”

Presenting at the meeting

All external meetings and events have been cancelled or postponed but we will continue to update members, promote the profession and lobby in the interests of BACP members during the crisis.

For further information about any of the articles in this issue, or to speak to our Policy team, please email

Policy in the news