Talk support for young people

Talk support for young people

teenager talking to counsellor

The Evelyn Trust is particularly enthusiastic about projects where a clear gap in provision has been identified and so an award of funding could make particular impact. Nowhere is this more true than in mental health services for children and young people which are locally underfunded and for which demand is rapidly increasing. 

Young people’s charity Centre 33 recognised a particular need in children aged 11 to 16 because most secondary schools in Cambridgeshire have no counselling support for this age group. Funding restrictions also mean that NHS services for under 16s prioritise very severely ill teenagers, leaving those with mild or moderate illness completely without support.

Combined funding from the Evelyn Trust and the schools involved has supported a two year project, Talk Support, delivered by Centre 33. This offered 1:1 counselling initially for students in St Bede’s School, Cambridge and Cambourne Village College. A service was also launched in Sawston Village College in September last year. Students can self refer, or be referred by their school. An initial assessment is followed by 1:1 support sessions. Students with serious conditions are referred on to other services via their GP.

“We are also trialling lunchtime drop in sessions at St Bede’s and Sawston to make it easy for students to self refer, or find out more about counselling. Typically students come to us with a range of complex problems relating to work and exam stress, family difficulties, anxiety, depression and low mood. Students aren’t always sure what they expect from counselling initially, but the service has been evaluated very positively by both students and teachers. Individuals are learning more about their own mental health, how to communicate their feelings and how to maximise the benefits of coping strategies. They understand better how to manage their well being through interests such as dance or art. They have also been putting learned techniques into action, including anger management, coping with grief, or tackling sleep problems,” says Chris Baines, Schools Counselling Manager.

Other benefits of the counselling project have included improved communication with teachers to explain reasons behind behaviour or attendance problems. Students have also been supported to find diagnoses, such as for Autism Spectrum Disorder and eating disorders.

Counselling sessions have facilitated action on safeguarding concerns for some students and for peers in their friendship groups.

As part of a wider research piece, a survey on attitudes to counselling is planned asking all students in both schools a series of questions about whether they would consider counselling, do they think it could be useful, etc. Centre 33 is planning to involve a Masters student from Anglia Ruskin University to help with the data analysis. There will be a full evaluation of the project later in 2020.

Centre 33 provides vital support for local young people on a range of issues. You can read more about their work on the Centre 33 website.

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