Student Counselling- A Global Issue with solutions
| Prof. Dr. H. M. Kulshrestha - 01 Apr 2022

In a whole school approach, wellbeing and mental health are 'everyone's business,’ with genuine engagement across the entire community: staff, pupils, educational authorities, parents and external services.  The prevalence of mental illness among children and adolescents is on the rise, according to statistics. An anxiety illness, depression, or conduct disorder affects one out of every eight people aged 5 to 19.

The approach involves multiple components including early identification and intervention; staff wellbeing and development; and counselling evidence-based skills for pupils, but above all it adopts a positive and universal focus on wellbeing. Mental health issues are very common. Thousands of people in the UK, as well as their friends, family, co-workers, and society at large, are affected.

1. It is believed that one out of every six persons has had a common mental health condition.

2. 10% of children and teenagers (ages 5 to 16) have a clinically diagnosable mental illness.

3. The most common mental health problem in the world is depression, which is followed by anxiety, schizophrenia, and bipolar disorder.

We know that having access to a school-based counsellor can not only have a profound effect on young people’s mental health – but also on their confidence, family relationships, friendships, school, attendance, and academic achievement. School counsellors can open a door for young people that allows them to flourish and thrive.

Development of the comprehensive school counselling curriculum as whole-school approach to meeting the mental health and emotional well-being needs of children and young people would need additional resources. UNICEF report spotlights on the mental health impact of COVID-19 in children and young people In UNICEF survey across 21 countries, only 41 per cent of young people in India said that it is good to seek support for mental health problems, compared to an average of 83 per cent for 21 countries. According to research, stigma is one of the major risk factors for poor mental health outcomes. Treatment is delayed due to stigma. It also diminishes the likelihood of a person with a mental disorder receiving appropriate and adequate treatment.


The State of the World’s Children 2021, also found that around 14 per cent of 15 to 24-year-olds in India, or 1 in 7, reported often feeling depressed or having little interest in doing things. The proportion ranged from almost one in three in Cameroon, one in seven in India and Bangladesh, to as low as one in ten in Ethiopia and Japan. Across 21 countries, the median was one in five young people. UNESCO, over 286 million children up to grade 6 were out of school in India between 2020-2021.  UNICEF’s rapid assessment in 2021 found that only 60 per cent could access digital classrooms.


IISP team and members’ in-depth studies and personal visits to schools in U K, learnt to the embedded IISP vision to the development of a whole-school approach framework to provide guidance to schools by instituting an extensively tested approach to creating quality mental health resources. The World Health Organization (WHO) defines mental health as a state of well-being in which the individual realizes his or her own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to his or her community. definition of a Health Promoting School (WHO1998), a whole school approach defines the entire school community as the unit of change and involves coordinated action between three interrelated components: (i) curriculum, teaching, and learning; (ii) school ethos and environment; (iii) family and community partnerships.

As interest and training school counsellors in counselling children and young people continues to grow, it is essential that counsellors are equipped with the skills to work with all school pupils, parents, teachers and other staff in the school.  Institute and its’ team draw on over two decades of experience in the field to provide a practical resource for qualified and trainee counsellors, and being organisation partnership with BACP, U K; facilitated with large-scale research inputs, including Child & Adolescent Health has revealed that school-based humanistic counselling (besides other counselling therapies) is effective and should be considered as a viable treatment option for children suffering from mental health issues despite considerable costs.

IISP offers and empowers school counsellors with therapies and counselling theories and evidence based psychological practices adopted in schools, embedded school-based humanistic counselling tools and techniques which leads to significant reductions in pupils’ psychological distress over the long-term, compared to pupils who only received other professional counsellors support and care. However, it was also revealed that this type of counselling comes at a cost.

School-based humanistic counselling consists of one-on-one sessions with a counsellor employed by a school, and is based on a child-centred approach, with children talking about their issues and developing solutions with the aid of the counsellor, rather than other counsellors, psychologists, therapist-led approaches, such as CBT. The study found that pupils who were offered counselling services experienced significantly improved self-esteem, as well as large increases in their achievement of personal goals. It also needs urgent evaluation of other mental health interventions for adolescents, such as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, (CBT) and appropriate therapies as classroom modules on emotional literacy. It further lays important groundwork for further studies and explorations into the improvement of mental health provision for school children by the campus-based school counsellors services, particularly with the ongoing impact that Covid-19 is having on young people’s mental health issues across the country.

IISP has been in forefront in school counsellors’ empowerments as “Adolescence is a period of rapid change for young people and makes them particularly vulnerable to mental health problems facing this pandemic, so this proposed addition to the curriculum of school wide counselling program of its type ever to be included are vital to assess how mental health services can be improved in schools.

“Our analysis found that school-based humanistic counselling works and makes a difference to the well-being of pupils, albeit at a cost. However, it also highlighted the importance to continue to study the provision of mental health support in schools and how other services, such as CBT, can be employed to tackle these issues. ‘’There is pressing need for a diverse and comprehensive mental health provision and care for young people in schools across for all schools, Support for children and young people that helps them to contextualise their emotions by age and stage and understand brain development; emotional regulation skills based on Dialectical behaviour therapy (DBT), Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) or other relevant  evidence based interventions models and, support to develop selfcare assessment; it is essential that this is properly assessed to establish what works and what should be widely implemented to improve the mental well-being of young generations.” Professionally delivered school counselling services are not cheap, and neither should they be.

School counsellors are highly trained, experienced and skilled practitioners, often working with complex need and trauma linked to psychological distress. School counselling has the potential to take some of the short and long-term pressure off statutory provision, and can support young people as they transition to and from more specialist mental health services.

Children’s services offer a wide range of supports within whole-school approaches including nurture, targeted approaches including the use of mental health first-aid training, and support from school guidance staff, school counsellors, school nurses and other workers such as youth workers and link workers. The provision of counselling through schools is delivered in line with a range of aims and principles, which include: • Delivered in partnership between national and local government, and relevant partners, and should build upon the services already in place wherever possible. • Should be part of a holistic, child centred, approach to improving the mental health and wellbeing of children and young people. • In recognition of the need to ensure young people are safe, services should ensure a robust assessment is carried out and that young people are supported to access alternative services as appropriate. • Should align to, and/or enhance local services to support the mental health and wellbeing of children and young people. As children with mental health problems get older, they are more likely to struggle with relationships, truancy and exclusion from school, unstable employment, involvement in crime, and social exclusion—some of the costliest problems in our society. Given that most adults with mental health disorders had problems in childhood, it makes sense to act as early as possible.

Last but not the least, it is essential to recognize the importance of developing strong human capital for a prosperous future of the nation and establish a national vision for the prevention of mental disorders and promotion of mental well-being among the child and adolescent population in India.


References The ‘Effectiveness and Cost-effectiveness Trial of Humanistic Counselling in Schools (ETHOS)’ study was carried out in collaboration with the London School of Economics (LSE), Manchester University, the University of Sheffield and the University of Kent, as well as the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP), the Metanoia Institute, and the National children’s Bureau (NCB). The work was supported by the Economic and Social Research Council [grant reference ES/M011933/1]; with additional funding to support the team from the University of Roehampton, the BACP, and the Metanoia Institute.



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