Counselling helps young people to navigate their way through difficult times, improves young peoples resilience and is part of the many positive aspects of school life which contributes to supporting the development of mentally well individuals within our community. Most children do grow up to be mentally healthy without counselling intervention, however, many young people have difficulties with their mental health and surveys suggest that this is an increasing problem, particularly so for young people who are already vulnerable. We feel, when our youth workers are engaging with young people on challenging topics, it is important that counselling support is accessable for those young people. St Machar and Northfield Academies have their own full-time counsellor, the Choices counsellor is based in Torry Academy which has limited counselling input of 3 hours per week. The Choices counselling provision in Torry was set up in October 2012 supported by the Fairer Scotland Fund and currently provides 12 counselling appointments a week in the school. Comic Relief have recently provided funding to expand this service.
Prior to setting up the service discussions were held with the school’s Senior Management Team, Guidance Team and the School Nurse.
Referrals to the counselling service in school come from Guidance and the School Nurse with whom the Youth Counsellor has developed positive relationships. Young people referred to the service have on average attended for seven sessions of counselling. Only one young person was inappropriately referred and the main reason for non attendance by others was absence from school due to exclusion or ill health.
The issues raised by young people are recorded and these statistics inform our youth workers about trends and behaviour patterns within the specific group of young people.
We use various therapeutic tools and resources to ensure the young person can communicate, and process their struggles in a way that is best for them.
The counselling service encourages young people and staff to provide anonymous feedback on their experience. We also use YP Core as a therapeutic assessment and evaluation tool.
Next steps We have received FSF and Comic Relief funding for the continuation and expansion of the youth counselling service. Recognition that many of the young people accessing the service have difficult relationships with their parents. We applied for funding to support these relationships and were successful! We would like to support the relationships which have an impact on the young people through the provision of fun activities in family pairs to allow for more positive relationships to be formed.