Evaluating the impact of Place2Be's primary school counselling service
Place2Be is a children’s mental health charity that provides in-school support and training to improve the emotional wellbeing of pupils, families, and staff in primary and secondary schools, with services reaching 116,000 pupils across 282 primary and secondary schools in the UK.
With data and experience to support the benefits of early intervention on long term mental health programmes, the charity approached Pro Bono Economics to assess the value for money of its one-to-one counselling service in primary schools.
Place2Be had a strong dataset to provide the basis for a cost-benefit analysis, which focussed on their work in 2016/17. PBE matched Department for Education Economist Dr Allan Little with this project, who has an established career in economics and a great deal of volunteering experience. Using data from 251 primary schools supporting 4548 children with one-to-one counselling, the study looked at the improvement in mental health of these schoolchildren.
The analysis of the 2016/17 counselling scheme shows that every £1 invested in the service results in a £6.20 benefit in terms of improved long-term outcomes. The service cost was £4.2 million, with an estimated benefit of £25.9 million for all children who recieved counselling, over £5700 per child.
The benefits come from improved outcomes in the form of reduced rates of truancy, smoking, exclusion, depression and crime, and higher rates of employment and wages.
Pro Bono Economics' report shows great potential for counselling services in primary schools to generate significant economic benefits resulting from improved outcomes for children in adolescence and adulthood. The analysis is intended to provide insight into the economic case for in-school provision of this type of service, helping Place2Be strengthen their already robust case.
Andy Haldane, Chief Economist at the Bank of England and Co-Founder and Trustee at Pro Bono Economics, said:
“An estimated one in ten children and young people in the UK have a mental health condition. Without effective intervention, these conditions can have a significant impact on their life chances and result in significant long-term costs. These costs arise from a range of adverse outcomes for the individual, such as reduced earnings and increased government spending on education, social care, and youth and criminal justice.”
“Charities tell us that results from Pro Bono Economics reports help them to truly understand the impact of their services. This report is a powerful example of our work in action. The analysis of this Place2Be scheme shows the potential for counselling services in primary schools to generate significant economic benefits to children in later life. The analysis in this report is intended to contribute to increased understanding of the value of this type of intervention in primary schools and to help support commissioning decisions.”
Catherine Roche, Chief Executive of Place2Be said:
“Place2Be has been providing mental health support in primary schools for almost 24 years. This incredibly helpful new economic analysis underlines what our own data and experience have shown us – that providing mental health support at the earliest possible stage is vital to giving children brighter prospects for the future and ensuring that problems don’t become more complex and entrenched.”
Paul Whiteman, general secretary of school leaders’ union NAHT, said:
“School leaders regularly raise concerns about support for pupil’s mental wellbeing. They are doing everything they can to give the children in their care the support they need, but it is becoming harder and harder as funding and resources get cut both for schools and for specialist mental health services.
“One in five children will experience a mental health difficulty at least once in their first 11 years, and many adults with lifetime mental health issues can trace the symptoms back to childhood. This research shows so clearly the positive impact early help can have, for individuals and for society.
“It would be a sensible investment for the government to fully fund a universal rollout of mental health and wellbeing support in all schools.”
“We also need to make sure that schools are supported by health and social care services allowing schools to fulfil their role in promoting pupil wellbeing rather than making up for cuts to other services.”