Users of secondary school-based counselling services and specialist CAMHS in Wales : a comparison study

Jackson, Charlie and Pybis, Joanne and Cooper, Mick and Hill, Andy and Cromarty, Karen and Rogers, Jack (2013) Users of secondary school-based counselling services and specialist CAMHS in Wales : a comparison study. Counselling and Psychotherapy Research. ISSN 1473-3145

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Background: The increasing prevalence of mental health issues in young people has contributed to a rise in the provision of school-based counselling services in the UK. Between 2008/09 and 2010/11, data were collected from users of secondary school-based counselling services in Wales. Aims: To identify the characteristics of users of school-based counselling services in Wales – including demographics, referral pathways, presenting issues, and predominant issues – and how they compare to users of specialist CAMHS in Wales and Welsh secondary school pupils in general. Method: Data were collected on 10,687 episodes of counselling. School counsellors completed a client record sheet after each counselling episode and submitted these to their Local Authority. Collated results were then compared to matched data from Welsh specialist CAMHS and Welsh secondary schools data. Results/findings: A typical user of a secondary school-based counselling service in Wales was female, of white ethnicity, and from the ‘middle’ school years. There was a marked under-representation of users from BME backgrounds. Users were most often referred by school staff, and the most common presenting issues were family-related, anger, and behaviour-related. Conclusions: There was a higher proportion of females accessing school-based counselling services than males. This was in direct contrast to data from specialist CAMHS and possible explanations for this are discussed. The under-representation of BME populations suggested that there were some equality issues associated with accessing these services. Implications for practice: Future research should explore equality issues associated with young people from BME backgrounds accessing intervention services.