The Welsh Government’s latest statistics on the performance of their independent school counselling services continues to positively affirm the important impact that this intervention is having on vulnerable school children in Wales.

The statistics show that the level of psychological distress reported by service users before and after counselling was significantly reduced. This analysis used the YP Core score, a common measure of level of distress, on average this fell from 19.2 to 11.6 following the intervention. In addition to this decrease in distress, the vast majority of children and young people who received counselling (88%) did not require any form of onward referral once counselling sessions had been completed.

Responding to the publication of the data on school-based counselling in Wales, Dr Andrew Reeves, Chair of BACP, said:

“These figures clearly demonstrate the positive impact of school-based counselling on vulnerable young people in Wales. Investing a fraction of the mental health budget on school based counselling services helps to keep children in school and avoid unnecessary and often stigmatising mental health diagnoses, as well as reducing the burden on the already stretched and costly CAMHS provision - the cost of five sessions of counselling is equivalent to just one contact with CAMHS.

“BACP has long been campaigning for consistent access to a school-based counsellor for all secondary schools across the UK. Currently, only Wales and Northern Ireland have statutory provision of these services, while young people in England and Scotland are subject to a postcode lottery of access to support. These new figures clearly exalt the clear benefits of school-based counselling in reducing psychological distress and we will continue to campaign to ensure all our children and young people across the UK have equal access to help and support."

Notes for editors

  • The Wales School Counselling Service supports children and young people aged between 11 and 18 and pupils in Year 6 of primary school
  • Statistics on presenting issues showed that family was the most common reason for referral to a counsellor. Anger and stress were the next common, although for females cases of self-worth were more common than cases of anger (14.3% to 11.1% respectively)
  • The most common form of referral was by school-based and other education staff, accounting for nearly half of all referrals. Self-referral was the second most common
    The figures showed that the average YP Core score for children and young people who received counselling in Wales in 2015/16 prior to counselling was 19.2, compared to 11.6 following the sessions, an improvement of 7.6 in the average score
  • The Young Persons Clinical Outcomes in Routine Evaluation (YP CORE) is a standardised 10 item measure commonly used by counselling services for evaluation and outcome measurement of 11 to 16-year-olds. The YP CORE is short, therefore not too onerous, and focuses on feelings that young people are experiencing. The measure has eight negative and two positive items. It includes a single (negatively framed) risk-to-self item. Each item is scored from 0 to 4 on a Likert scale, with lower scores indicating lower levels of psychological distress – the maximum score is 40.