Working with governments and stakeholders

Welsh government consultations 

The importance of increased access to counselling and the value of our competency frameworks have been emphasised in responses to three Welsh government policy consultations.

We called for greater recognition of the hidden emotional impact on the growing numbers of people in informal caring roles during the pandemic, emphasising the importance of access and choice of talking therapies and including the example of the Swansea Carers’ Centre’s counselling service.

We put forward evidence to the Wales Healthy Ageing Strategy on the importance of mental health support and the need to address stigma for older people seeking help for emotional problems.

And we were pleased to endorse the three-tiered model of community-based bereavement support proposed in the Welsh National Bereavement Framework consultation, and emphasised the value of counselling skills training in the non-specialist tiers.

Care Management Matters magazine

Our Third Sector Lead Jeremy Bacon reflected on the emotional needs of care staff in the light of the pandemic in Care Management Matters magazine.

The article included contributions from our member Sue Aston – who has worked as a domiciliary care worker and now provides counselling to care staff - and signposted readers to a scheme established by The Care Workers Charity providing support to care staff seeking counselling.

Care Management Matters has an estimated readership of 21,000 managers and decision-makers in the care sector.

Third sector research

Six community-based counselling organisations contributed to research examining the age profiles and outcomes of clients in all-adult counselling services.

Data analysis indicates older people may not be using community-based counselling services at the rates reflective of population demographics, and that the likelihood of accessing talking therapies in the services reduces with age.

Read the study findings, which were shared at our Research Conference.

IAPT Positive Practice Guide

We’re part of a working group that’s produced a new guide aimed at increasing access to psychological therapies for older people.

Launched in May and hosted by BABCP, the IAPT Older People's Positive Practice Guide aims to help health professionals, including GPs and IAPT providers, as well as commissioners, identify and address barriers older people face when accessing mental health support.

The guide, which has been published by Age UK, addresses the disparities in referral rates for talking therapies, and some of the attitudes and behaviours of professionals and older people that may get in the way.

Securing cross-party support for counselling in Scotland

We’re pleased with the commitment the Scottish government has shown to the counselling profession through its five-year investment in counsellors across education settings.

However, the pandemic has shone a light on the serious mental health inequalities that exist in Scotland and the need to invest in accessible support.

We worked with members and partners, including the Scottish Association for Mental Health (SAMH), to develop a new manifesto calling on the next Scottish government to provide a more holistic offer to everyone whose uses the counselling and psychotherapy workforce.

We were pleased to see all the main parties’ manifestos reflect our policy priorities and recognise the vital role counselling and psychotherapy will need to play in Scotland’s recovery.

Increased investment is particularly critical and we welcome the new SNP government’s promise to increase direct investment into mental health services by at least 25%, alongside key pledges to expand the mental health workforce and to provide more mental health services across local communities.

We look forward to working with Kevin Stewart MSP, the new Minister for Mental Wellbeing and Social Care, and the new Health Secretary Humza Yousaf MSP – whose wife is a counsellor in a drug service in Fife – to continue to build the case for investing in counselling provision.

Read more about our impact in the Scottish Election manifestos.

Understanding counselling in Orthodox Jewish communities

We responded to a motion passed at last year’s AGM that there’s more research, outreach, accessibility and potentially funding to help the (Ultra-) Orthodox Jewish communities access full mental health help and resources.

In response Jeremy Bacon, our Third Sector Lead, joined Suky Kaur, our Head of Stakeholder Relations, and Clare Symons, our Head of Research, in meetings with the proposer.

They’ve since met Bikur Cholim, a provider of a range of culturally-appropriate services, including a BACP-accredited counselling service.

CEO Yocheved Eiger and colleagues from the emotional wellbeing service shared their experiences of working to overcome the stigma associated with mental health in the Haredi communities.

They also shared protocols and policies developed to address concerns over dual roles, with therapists being from the communities the service supports.

The service will be featured in an article in Thresholds, the spirituality division journal, and engaged in BACP’s policy work.

Securing a political consensus for counselling in Wales

The Senedd Election provided an important opportunity for us to build strong cross-party support for counselling in Wales.

The election came at a critical time in the pandemic and with the Welsh Government’s flagship Together for Mental Health strategy coming to an end this year.

We worked with members and partners in Wales, including Mind Cymru, to develop our Welsh Manifesto to lobby all the parties and secure increased investment in psychological therapies and counselling, particularly to support those people and communities whose mental health has suffered most during the pandemic.

We were delighted to see cross-party support for our manifesto, with our headline policies appearing in all the manifestos for all the main parties.

We were particularly pleased to see the new Labour Government support our call to prioritise investment in mental health services to help with the long-term recovery from COVID-19, including our ask to expand the mental health workforce to help deliver a “no-wrong-door approach to mental health support for all”.

We’ll be working closely with the new Mental Health Minister, Lynne Neagle MS, to help deliver this much-needed investment.

Lynne is a long-term supporter of BACP, a strong advocate of counselling in Wales and a champion of children and young people’s mental health.

Read more about our impact in the Welsh Election Manifestos.

Reforming the Mental Health Act

We responded to the Department of Health and Social Care’s consultation on reforming the Mental Health Act 1983.

We set out how the current act is outdated and doesn’t reflect the changes in healthcare services and attitudes towards mental health that have developed in recent years.

We agreed with many of the proposed reforms in the Mental Health White Paper, including the four guiding principles of:

  • valuing choices and autonomy of service users
  • using the Act’s powers in the least restrictive way possible
  • prioritising therapeutic benefit when using the Act’s powers
  • seeing service users as individuals and delivering their care in a way that recognises that

We were also pleased to see a commitment to choice for service users written into the proposals.

We emphasised that while workforce expansion is often cited as the biggest barrier to achieving a quicker expansion of services, NHS England – in setting their workforce plans – should pay greater attention to the skills of the existing counselling and psychotherapy workforce, many of whom are currently working outside the NHS but who are all highly trained and whose experience could be brought to new services.

NICE depression guideline campaign

Ahead of the upcoming third consultation on the NICE depression in adults clinical guideline this year, Matt Smith-Lilley, our Policy and Engagement Lead for Mental Health, has been working closely with our core campaign partners on the NICE Campaign Coalition to prepare our response.

We’ve recently met Sir Norman Lamb, the former Minister for Care and Support, to discuss engagement with political supporters of the campaign. We’ve planned engagement with a range of cross-party MPs and peers to reiterate the message that the NICE guideline on depression in adults isn’t fit for purpose.

The campaign coalition has a broad church of members, including almost 40 organisations and more than 50 leading academics. We’re also planning a range of engagement opportunities with our members ahead of the consultation to ensure they’re equipped to respond in a robust and evidenced way.

Responding to consultations

In order to ensure all relevant consultations are acknowledged and responded to within the appropriate timeframe, our Policy Team has updated and formatted the Consultation Tracker spreadsheet.

We’ve recently responded to consultations on children and young people’s mental health; the Draft Mental Health Strategy 2021-2031; Reforming the Mental Health Act White Paper; and the National framework for Bereavement Care.

We’re working to respond to consultations on SIGN guidelines for eating disorders; looked-after children and young people; social, emotional and mental wellbeing in primary and secondary education; regulating healthcare professionals; and the Welsh Government’s Race Equality Action Plan.

Children, young people and families

All in the same boat

Jo Holmes, our CYPF Lead, took part in a podcast to discuss children and young people’s mental health during the pandemic.

All in the Same Boat was hosted by the child and family poverty action charity, Buttle UK.

Jo was interviewed by Greg Rutherford MBE, the Olympic gold medal-winning long jumper, and used the platform to appeal to listeners to support our school and college counselling campaign work.

School counselling campaign

Almost 5,000 people have signed our petition calling for the government to make available an emergency resilience fund to help schools and colleges pay for counselling support during this crucial time.

The petition is part of our campaign for a counsellor in every school and college in England.

Our school and college counselling Expert Reference Group, active drivers of work in this area, plan to launch a series of small films pitched at school leaders about why they should invest in additional counselling provision.

The co-chair of the group, Shira Baram, makes this appeal linked to the Resilience Fund.

School and College counselling survey

Jo Holmes delivered a presentation for the University of Roehampton’s CREST research network on the interim findings of March’s school and college counselling survey.

The event was attended by 180 practitioners. It provided a snapshot of the midway findings which demonstrated that 12 sessions were delivered on average each week, with a mixture of video and audio counselling being the preferred mode of delivery.

Results from the next data set indicated that while the average number of weekly counselling sessions remained the same, there was now more face-to-face delivery with social distancing measures.

The research is ongoing and is a collaborative piece of work between our Research and Policy teams, supported by Professor Mick Cooper from the University of Roehampton.

Greater Manchester Further Education Supervision Project

A pilot project to train Further Education staff in the Greater Manchester area in reflective supervision has been extended for another year.

Funded by the Association of Colleges (AoC), it aims to develop supervision for pastoral staff carrying extensive mental health caseloads.

Twenty-five BACP supervisors with a background in training in educational settings took part in a train the trainers webinar.

There is now a core group of six practitioners who will deliver training to college staff in the autumn term to offer supportive supervision or peer supervision.

Student clinical supervisors from the University of Salford have also been offering monthly supervision to Further Education staff as part of their placement hours.

Five student supervisors are working with staff, including safeguarding leads. As part of the AoC-funded project, we’re are paying for the students’ own monthly supervision as part of the placement offer.

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


Health and Wellbeing at Work Conference

We were proud co-sponsors of the annual Health and Wellbeing at Work Conference, the largest and most prestigious of its kind in the UK.

Hosted by Dame Carol Black, this year’s event moved online from its usual home at the NEC because of COVID-19 restrictions.

More than 60,000 delegates attended the four-day event, accessing workplace-related wellbeing content.

Nicola Banning, our Workplace executive member, led a popular session on digital fatigue, while our Workforce Lead Kris Ambler led a talk on digital disruption and the changing landscape of therapy.

Our stand was visited more than 600 times over the four days, with delegates downloading video and other content designed for the conference.

Our new Workplace Counselling Competence Framework was launched at the event, attracting interest from organisations across the public, private, and third sectors.

​Following the event, we were contacted by the Royal Foundation of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, to advise on and support the development of a UK-wide counselling service for first responders. 

Shining a spotlight on rural mental health

Last year we worked with a number of rural organisations, including counselling providers, to set out the huge challenges facing the farming industry and the impact on farmers’ mental health.

An article in Workplace journal examined the mental health of the farming industry ‘All things bright and beautiful while the rural charity, the Royal Agricultural Benevolent Institution (RABI), worked with us to commission an online counselling service for farmers.

This year, with the COVID-19 and post-Brexit landscape in mind, we’ve revisited the topic. We’re working closely with RABI to extend their counselling service and will be taking a key role in helping them recruit and train counsellors with the necessary skills.

This means more paid roles for our members and will help plug gaps in counselling provision for some of the most vulnerable workers in the UK.

Kris Ambler, our Workforce Lead, talked about rural mental health and suicide at the Wales Staying Connected event, and a follow up piece on the topic will appear in July’s edition of the Workplace journal.

We’ll also be supporting a major piece of ESRC funded research, led by academics at the University of Reading, which seeks to map the mental health support landscape for rural workers, identify gaps, and lobby policy makers for investment.

Supporting counselling services in Northern Ireland

A change to the off-payroll (IR35) tax rules came into force in April, which saw the private sector move in line with public sector in determining IR35 eligibility.

Our Workforce Lead Kris Ambler wrote a comprehensive document for member guidance on IR35.

We worked closely with a group of concerned members in Northern Ireland to understand communication that GP surgeries had received from the Health and Social Care Board (HSCB) and determined that it contained a number of inaccuracies.

As result of these inaccuracies, several GP surgeries informed counselling services they might have to cut provision.

In response, we contacted Dr Margaret O’Brien, the Assistant Director of Integrated Care at HSCB, outlining the issues raised by our members and highlighting the misinterpretation of the IR35 legislation.

HSCB recognised that their guidance, including an FAQ document for GP surgeries, was misleading and would seek to contact all GP surgeries with correct, updated guidance and signpost them to our online resource for clarity.

The issue subsequently attracted press interest, with the BBC’s Northern Ireland correspondent covering the issue. We’ve since briefed and updated the reporter and may contribute to another BBC report.

Find out more about our workforce work

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