School counselling services remain valuable mental health support for pupils

The vast majority of young people who have accessed mental health support through counselling in Stirling Council schools have reported an improvement in their wellbeing.

A child speaking with a school counsellor
97% of young people who completed an assessment before and after accessing school counselling reported an improvement in wellbeing.

Data gathered between January and June in 2023 showed that 364 young people accessed school counselling services available in all seven of Stirling’s high schools, 170 of which completed a period of counselling support. The highest number of people using the service were between S2 and S4.

Of the young people who completed assessments before and after using the service, 97% demonstrated an improvement in their wellbeing. A small number of onward referrals to Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) were made after engaging with school counselling.

The most common reason that young people engaged with counselling services between January and June was anxiety, followed by family and peer relationships, depression, body image and trauma.

'Impartial, non-judgemental and understanding'

Children and Young People Convener, Cllr Margaret Brisley said: “It’s highly encouraging to see that that mental health support in our schools is available and effective for young people who need it. School counselling, and indeed, community mental health supports are a vital resource for the mental health and wellbeing of children and young people in our communities.

“It’s important for our young people to know that they can reach out to trained counsellors if they need to. Even if they feel nervous or embarrassed about doing so, the service is impartial, non-judgemental and understanding.”

Stirling Council also offers a wide range of community supports for children and young people between the ages of 5 and 24, and for young adults up to 26 years old with experiences of care.

Kooth is an online mental health service that was introduced in Stirling in 2022 for free access to 10 -18 year olds living in the council area. This enables young people to chat online with trained counsellors.

This provision was extended in May this year to accommodate young adults with experience of care up to 26 years old. Between January and June in 2023, 200 young people accessed Kooth, 110 of which chose support from a trained counsellor.