The British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP), British Psychoanalytic Council (BPC) and the United Kingdom Council for Psychotherapy (UKCP) have welcomed Transforming Children and Young People’s Mental Health Mental Health Provision: A Green Paper, however raise serious concerns about its ambition and its ability to deliver the support needed for our children and young people.
Our organisations are disappointed that the Green Paper fails to recognise the important work already being done by counsellors and psychotherapists with children and young people in schools, colleges and in the community and ignores the potential for our trained workforce to do more.
In our responses to the Green Paper, we are calling on the Government to review its proposals to ensure counsellors and psychotherapists are central to new systems and structures to support the mental health and wellbeing of children and young people.
Key messages from our organisations
Workforce: The existing counselling and psychotherapy workforce is available now to start helping the country’s children and young people, without the need to train a whole new workforce of practitioners.
Stigma: The focus on anxiety and depression within the Green Paper could lead to children and young people needing an unhelpful mental health diagnoses to receive help. This is unnecessary and potentially stigmatising.
Ambition: With plans to roll out these proposals to just 25 per cent of the country by 2022/23 this is too slow and won’t help the majority of children and young people who need support.
Whilst welcoming the Government’s commitment to children and young people’s mental health, using the existing counselling and psychotherapy workforce is a quicker cost-effective solution and our organisations urge the Government to look again at the role our therapists could play to deliver its objectives.
Prof Sarah Niblock, Chief Executive of the UK Council for Psychotherapy, said: ‘We must not underestimate the scale of emotional and psychological distress and damage among children and young people, and its causes. Providing appropriate, qualified assessment and therapy will need investment but the mind can be healed, which is hugely cost-effective in the medium to longer term. The Green Paper’s focus on mental health resources ducks this truth.’
Dr Andrew Reeves, Chair of the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy, said: ‘Counselling is already provided in 61% of schools in England and is universal for post-primary aged young people in Wales and Northern Ireland. Instead of using this Green Paper as an opportunity to embed counselling in all schools and colleges it is hugely disappointing that the Government has chosen to ignore a trained, available workforce.
‘Over the last month over a 1600 of our members and the public have supported our campaign for a trained counsellor in every school and college by contacting their MP. I hope that this makes the Government take note and think again.’
Helen Morgan, Chair of the British Psychoanalytic Council, said ‘Whilst we welcome the focus on schools and colleges role supporting children and young people’s emotional and mental health we have significant concerns about the lack of emphasis on existing specialist services. Emotional, behavioural and mental health problems in children and young people are simply not always readily identifiable by non-qualified staff and the assumption that these problems can be then addressed by practitioners with limited training is of real concern and fails to recognise the vital role that child psychotherapists will need to play if we are to properly address the needs of children and young people. The Green Paper also fails to address wider determinants of children and young people’s mental health including those resulting from disordered attachments in early life, conflict between parents and wider family issues. These all need consideration and will require experienced and highly trained clinicians to help address them.’
Read UKCP’s response