Currently one in 10 young people aged five to 16 in Great Britain suffer from a diagnosable mental health disorder, equating to around 3 pupils in every classroom. Evidence suggests that young people are ten times more likely to attend in-school support, than one not based in schools.
We are working in collaboration with the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) on the first ever large-scale randomised controlled trial of humanistic counselling in schools. We believe this project has the potential to revolutionize mental health support in schools for young people.
The study aims to pilot and offer schools a new model of counselling and to test out whether a dedicated service can help reduce pupils’ emotional distress.
Over 300 young people from across the schools who are suffering some form of emotional distress will either be given 10 sessions with a counsellor or receive the usual support offered by their school (with counselling at a later time point). These young people will be tested at regular intervals to see whether there are any differences in levels of distress or academic attainment.
The results of the trial will be shared nationally to better support young people who may be facing difficulties in their lives.
We are carrying out the study with the University of Roehampton, the universities of Manchester, Sheffield, LSE and UCL, the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP) and the Metanoia Institute.
Our role within ETHOS will be to oversee the case study element of the research design, including the views of children, young people, parents and carers about the new counselling provision.
Four of our Young NCB members will sit on the ETHOS Advisory Group, alongside two parent/carers who are members of our Families Research Advisory Group. They will have an essential role in providing advice to make sure the trial is important to young people and their families and keeps the interest of those taking part. Young people have also been involved in the interview process for the counsellors.
The study will run until early 2019 and we expect the findings to be available that summer.