How to Win a Schools-based Counselling Campaign in Your Area: Help us achieve better mental health support for children and young people

Start: Thursday, November 25, 2021 5:30 PM Greenwich Mean Time : Dublin, Edinburgh, Lisbon, London (GMT+00:00)

We have a moral duty to protect the mental health and wellbeing of children and young people.

Yet in England, unlike in Northern Ireland, Wales or Scotland, there is currently nothing in law ensuring every school or college has access to high quality counselling support.

Children without support are falling through the gaps.

But there is something we can do to prevent this.

Citizens UK is launching a national campaign in partnership with the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP) and the teachers’ union NASUWT, calling on the Government to introduce statutory (legally-binding) provision of counselling in English primary schools, secondary schools and further education colleges.

Here's how you can get involved:

Register using the form opposite and join us for this free, online, 4-part training series.

Led by Citizens UK Organisers and leaders with extensive experience of campaigning for better mental health services, this series will connect you with hundreds of other campaigners across the country. It will equip you with the Organising tools and resources to take part in your own local actions as well as support the national campaign.

Dates & Times (By registering using this form you are registering for all the sessions below):

As part of the regular Citizens UK 'Learning Thursdays' slot.

Introductory Session - Thursday 30th September 2021, 16:00-17:30

4-Part series:

  • Thursday 4th November 2021, 16:00-17:30
  • Thursday 11th November 2021, 16:00-17:30
  • Thursday 18th November 2021, 16:00-17:30
  • Thursday 25th November 2021, 16:00-17:30

Access to the sessions

Once you have filled out your details on the form opposite, you will receive a zoom link to join the session.

If you have any difficulties with registration or anything else, please contact

Thank you and we look forward to seeing you there!

Further Background Information around the campaign

Many families have suffered over the last 18 months, and concerns about the mental health impact on children and young people are growing.

Even before the pandemic, Citizens UK chapters were listening to communities on this. In 2018, we heard from pupils, parents and teachers in the North East who highlighted how existing services often failed to meet the psychological needs of children and young people.

But we soon realised that this isn't just a local issue. It's a problem that requires a national solution.

The lack of statutory requirement for, or provision of, schools and colleges-based counselling in England leaves some pupils and students in England without access to a counsellor.

In 2018/19, approximately a quarter of GP referrals to UK child and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS) were rejected on the grounds that their symptoms were not severe enough.

In 2019, the UK Government began piloting Mental Health Support Teams (MHSTs) in England. MHSTs work across schools, supporting them to develop low-intensity interventions for pupils experiencing mild to moderate mental health difficulties.

The Case for School and College-Based Counselling

School and college-based counselling is a proven intervention for children and young people experiencing psychological distress. School and college-based counselling has also been shown to minimise pressure on CAMHS services.

Citizens UK believes schools-based counselling can fill the ‘missing middle’ between MHSTs and CAMHS.

Call to Action

Citizens UK is calling on the UK Government to secure the statutory provision of counselling in English primary schools, secondary schools and further education colleges that is:

Cooperative Beginning with a commitment to early years mental health education, the provision of counselling should be situated strategically on a continuum of intervention and support. The provision of counselling can take different forms according to the child or young person’s preference (digital wellbeing tools, telephone counselling, face-to-face sessions at school or external venues).

Collaborative Counsellors should liaise internally with their school (Mental Health Lead, Family Liaison Officer, senior management team) and with external agencies (social services, police, local education authority), so that provision is sensitive to the child or young person’s family dynamics, the impact of social determinants and the demography of the school catchment area.

Consistent Counselling should be provided by those trained on a nationally recognised course, registered with a professional body for reasons of ethical oversight, training and supervision, and experienced in working with primary school-age-children.

About Citizens UK and the background to our work on Mental Health

Citizens UK is a diverse alliance of civil society organisations committed to working together toward the common good.

Citizens UK is working in partnership with the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP) and the teachers’ union NASUWT to campaign for the statutory provision of counselling in all English schools and further education colleges.At the Citizens UK Delegates’ Assembly in October 2019, Mental Health was voted as the top priority for UK-wide action. Since then the Citizens UK Leadership Team has held a civic academy on mental health to boost our collective understanding of the issue, and chapters have been deepening their action on mental health at a local level, resulting in a Mental Health Charter (Merton Citizens

, Brighton & Hove Citizens), engagement with Clinical Commissioning Group and Mental Health Trusts (South London Citizens, Citizens UK Birmingham), and listening campaigns in schools (Peterborough Citizens, Citizens Essex).  

There are some common trends that have emerged from this local work - in particular the mental health needs of children and young people, the lack of parity of esteem between physical health and mental health in terms of funding, and the many opportunities there are for Citizens to develop impactful local campaigns targeted at their local authority or NHS body.  

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