Support and Counselling for Children and Young People
There has been a lot of information in the news and on social media about children and young people’s mental health. There are lots of pressures on children and young people, like social media, school work and exam pressures, and getting a job in the future. Worries about these issues can lead to reduced confidence, anxious feelings and low mood. If you are feeling any of these things, it is important to talk to someone about it.
The Scottish Government has made a commitment to tackling children and young people’s mental health in their Mental Health Strategy 2017-2027. As part of that they have agreed every school in Scotland will have access to a counsellor.
In the Stirling area, there are now counsellors based in every secondary school, who will be offering support to children and young people aged 10-18 years within the whole school community, including primary schools in P6/7, and specialist provision in the community. Action in Mind is involved with the Stirling Schools Counselling Service, and has a counsellor working in one of the schools.
The counselling service includes access to Time to Talk, which can be a 15-20 minute chat about what is getting the child or young person down, or Therapeutic Counselling sessions which last longer and can involve talking more about feelings and emotions. These sessions will be private and confidential, and can take place over the phone, by video call, email or text. Once everyone is back in school, the appointments can be face-to-face.
Anyone who would like to speak to a counsellor in school should speak to their pupil support teacher about being referred to counselling or Time to Talk. Parents can also contact their child’s pupil support teacher if they have concerns about their mental health such as anxiety or low mood.
Counselling at Action in Mind
Action in Mind are able to offer a service to young people of 16 years or over for counselling, which is separate to the service which runs within schools. You can be referred to this service by your GP or anyone who is supporting you with mental health issues. At the moment appointments will be carried out over the phone or by video call. Once we are able to resume working in our Riverside premises, appointments will take place face-to-face there.
Child Protection and Safeguarding Children
Counsellors including those who work in schools have a duty of care towards their clients. These are clients who are children or young people. Everything that is talked about between a client and a counsellor is confidential UNLESS the counsellor thinks that the client is at risk in some way. This might mean the client is being hurt by someone physically, mentally or sexually, or they are at risk of hurting themselves. If the counsellor is worried about the safety of a client, then they must tell someone. In school this would be the child protection co-ordinator, who is usually the head teacher or the deputy head teacher. They would then decide what to do next, and it may involve contacting social services or the police.
In Action in Mind, the child protection co-ordinator is a member of the Board of Directors. The counsellor would speak to them urgently, and a decision would be made about what to do next. Again this might involve phoning social services, the police or the client's doctor.
The counsellor will try and keep the client involved and informed as much as possible. However, the client's safety is the most important concern.
GIRFEC (Getting it Right for Every Child)
Getting It Right For Every Child is the guidance in Scotland through which everyone in contact with children and young people gauge how well they are growing up, and making sure they are safe and protected.
Using the SHANARRI indicators, adults are able to work out if children and young people are Safe, Healthy, Achieving, Nurtured, Active, Respected, Responsible and Included.
If you are getting counselling, the counsellor is likely to ask you about all these things, to make sure you are doing well in all of these areas, or are moving towards all of them.