Simon Murphy, Lauren Copeland, Amy Edwards, Peter Gee, Gillian Hewitt, Helen Morgan, Nick Page, Joan Roberts, Simone Willis
The mental health and wellbeing of children and young people in Wales is a priority. Almost 20 per cent of learners in school Years 7-11 report high rates of symptoms that are associated with poor mental health, yet more than a quarter feel that there is a lack of mental health support available to them in school. Local Authorities in Wales are required to provide an independent counselling service to support the health, emotional and social needs for children and young people in school Years 6-13. In 2020, as part of a wider financial commitment to the Whole School Approach to emotional and mental wellbeing, Welsh Government Minsters agreed to increase funding for school and community-based counselling services, extending entitlement to all primary school aged children (4–11 years) in Wales. This research study was commissioned by Welsh Government to support this commitment.
Aims and Objectives
The overall aim of this study was to establish how to optimise counselling service provision for secondary and primary school aged children and young people.
The specific research aims were:
- To conduct a formal review of fitness for purpose of the statutory school and community-based counselling services for children and young people aged 11–18 years provided through Local Authorities across Wales.
- To explore need and options for extending counselling to younger children, aged 4 years and above.
- To make recommendations about improvements to the provision, monitoring and evaluation of services, based on an evidence-based theory of change for services.
The study employed a mixed-methods approach and undertook the following:
- A rapid evidence review of evaluations of school and community-based counselling services in the UK.
- Secondary analysis of School Health Research Network (SHRN) biennial secondary school-level and learner datasets.
- Mapping of current school and community-based counselling service provision in Wales.
- Consultations with children and young people, parents and carers, school staff and LA counselling service leads.
- Interviews with key system stakeholders.
- Case-studies with primary and secondary schools.
Further information and publications
Review of school and community based counselling services (Welsh Government website)
How can we improve school counselling services? A new model for the current education context (Webinar, YouTube)