BACP is working with organisations in the north east of England on a pilot school-based counselling programme in the region.

The project, led by Tyne and Wear Citizens Mental Health Coalition, aims to help improve student attainment, attendance and wellbeing, boost school staff morale and ensure the welfare of parents and carers is properly considered too.

It will work across several schools in Newcastle and Northumberland and will be independently evaluated to look at the impact of early therapeutic intervention on young people’s emotional health.

This will give further evidence to funders and commissioners in the region – and potentially across the country - that they should invest in school-counselling services.

We’re part of the core project team, which includes head teachers and representatives from local NHS trusts and councils, public health researchers and third sector mental health organisations.

The group will help explore what effective schools-based counselling provision would look like and how it could be effectively piloted and evaluated as part of this scheme.

And we’ve contributed to the initial proposal for funders; stressing the importance of paid work for school counsellors and the evidence that supports school-based counselling as an effective, early intervention for young people.

The next stage of the project involves drawing upon the experiences of established statutory school-based counselling provision in Wales and looking at costing structures for the wider project plan, including counsellors’ salaries.

We are also keen to include the voices of children and young people to help shape future services and have begun this process.

Jo Holmes, our Children, Young People and Families lead, said: “We’re very pleased to be involved in this exciting and ambitious project driven by people who are passionate about improving the mental health and wellbeing of children in their region, and across the whole country.

Transform lives

“We know that school-counselling is a cost-effective and proven early intervention to help young people in psychological distress. It can transform the lives of young people – and their families.

“There is a highly trained and professional counselling and psychotherapy workforce who can carry out this work – and we’ll continue to push for paid-for employment opportunities for them as part of our work with this group.

“We’re looking forward to contributing to this project in the future and to seeing how it can make a difference to young people’s lives.”

The long-term ambition of the project is to ensure that every student in every North East school has access to effective counselling provision.

But it also aims to be a stepping stone towards school-based counselling being established through England on a statutory basis.

Revd Simon Mason, from Tyne and Wear Citizen, said:

“Tyne and Wear Citizens is delighted the BACP is a key member of the Core Team for this action on the provision of counselling in schools in the North East. It is clear from the response of Martin Bell (BACP’s head of policy and stakeholder relations) to the Tyne and Wear Citizens Mental Health Assembly last November that the BACP wants to work with us and other key stakeholders in the region to drive forward this crucial campaign.

“We are delighted that Jo Holmes is collaborating on this pilot project and is working closely with students from St Thomas More RC Academy to get their voice heard on this necessary form of early intervention.”