Increase in demand for school counselling services

Social care charity VSA today announced it had seen a rise in demand for its school counselling service as a result of the coronavirus crisis.

The service, provided in conjunction with Aberdeen City Council, normally supports around 200 young people in schools as they deal with a range of emotional issues from bullying, self-harm to family separations.

However, the current lockdown has placed additional pressure on children and young people as they adapt to isolation, change and loss caused by the current covid-19 pandemic.

The young people and their counsellors have also had to adapt to the new way of manging their counselling sessions through various platforms including Microsoft Teams, Google Hangouts and via phone and video calls. The service has also had to consider the risks and challenges of delivering counselling sessions to children and young people in a less traditional way so that they can maintain the safety and well -being of the children and young people.

Whilst some children have struggled with this new way of working and miss their face-to-face meetings with the school counsellors who operate at St Machar, Hazlehead and Northfield schools, others have embraced the use of digital platforms to interact with the counselling services.

A young pupil aged 10 who uses the service said: “I enjoy the counselling as it’s been helpful overall. I feel I can trust my counsellor and speak to them in confidence. The counselling has been helpful at school and when I’ve been at home.”

VSA’s director of Children and Family Services, Anna Garden, said: “This is obviously an unprecedented time and a lot of young people are struggling to adapt. Many of the children who access our services live with parents and carers who need professional support to manage the struggles of daily life and are unable to deal with the additional anxiety this pandemic is causing. Now more than ever, we need to be there to support young people who are dealing with their general emotional well-being and mental health issues.”

Kenneth Simpson, VSA’s chief executive, said: “Our school counselling is a truly vital service that we provide for children and young people in the City. This is a challenging time for everyone, and we recognise the significant part played by our counselling services to support and improve outcomes to many children and young people who are struggling at this worrying time.”

VSA provides in excess of 2 million hours of care through its 22 facilities in the Northeast and supports vulnerable people from birth to end of life.

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