Newswise: Counseling sessions improve long-term mental health in primary school children, according to a new study. Research has implications for reversing declining mental health in young people in a COVID-19 era.
A team from the University of Exeter and the University of Cambridge worked in partnership with Place2Be to assess the long-term impact of their service to the school.
The study assessed the impact of the Place2Be program, in which trained advisors acted in 171 schools across the country in the 2015/16 school year. Under the scheme, children could self-refer to counselors for any reason or be referred by parents or teachers.
The researchers analyzed data from 740 children who received individual counseling, collected before counseling, once the sessions were over, and about a year later. Children did not have to have mental health disorders to adopt counseling, although a comparison with children who were visited by NHS mental health services indicated that they had similar levels of poor mental health.
The research, published in European Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, used data from the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ) completed by teachers and parents. A year later, these data showed that children who spoke to counselors had considerably better mental health than a comparative group of children who had poor mental health but had not seen any counselors.
The main author, Dra. Katie Finning, of the University of Exeter, said: “We know that children’s mental health is deteriorating, while access to child and adolescent mental health services is declining. Our research indicates that children who have access to a primary school counselor see the long-term mental health benefits compared to children who do not.School counseling can help address the urgent need to support mental health of children and can help reduce pressure on mental health services for children who are not subscribed. “
A previously published research has concluded that Place2Be’s counseling intervention has economic benefits stemming from higher employment output and lower spending on utilities, which exceeds £ 5,700 per child. However, this amount was based on the fact that the intervention had short-term benefits that faded more quickly than the new research suggests. Therefore, savings per child are likely to be underestimated, given the new finding that the benefits are long-term.
Professor Tamsin Ford of Cambridge University, who oversaw the research, said: “We have previously found that children’s mental health has worsened during the pandemic. We need to prioritize the provision of mental health support based on “Evidence in schools. Intervention at this early age, before mental health problems intensify in adolescence and young adulthood, can help prevent the long-term impacts of childhood mental health problems.” .
Catherine Roche, chief executive of Place2Be, said: “This study reinforces our evidence that school-based high-quality mental health support not only helps children get the most out of their education, but which can also prevent problems from growing over time, affecting children’s life opportunities.Schools are at the forefront and have the opportunity to make mental health services easily accessible to families. School leaders and teachers cannot do this alone, they need quality training, easy referral routes, and timely access to specialized mental health services.When all parts of the system work together, children will get the help they need. they deserve it “.
The paper is entitled ‘Long-Term Effects of School Counseling in UK Primary Schools’, published in European Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. The research was funded by Place2Be with additional funding from Research England.