With a one-year investment of £4.2 million, charity Place2Be delivers one-to-one counselling to 4,548 children across 251 schools, generating a potential societal benefit of £25.9 million, says new report by Pro Bono Economics for Place2Be.

Early mental health interventions in primary schools, such as one-to-one mental health support from counsellors, could both improve life chances for children over their lifetime and generate significant economic benefits, according to an independent analysis2, conducted by charity Pro Bono Economics, of charity Place2Be’s school-based mental health services.

The study looked at the improvement in mental health of pupils from 251 primary schools, covering 4,548 children who had received one-to-one support from Place2Be counsellors over the school year 2016/17. The report calculates that for every £1 invested (£4.2 million in total), Place2Be’s counselling service has the potential to deliver a societal return of £6.20 (£25.9 million in total) by improving long-term outcomes for each child. This return is achieved through higher rates of employment and earnings and by reducing rates of school truancy, exclusion, smoking, depression and crime.

The potential benefit of Place2Be’s counselling service was calculated at £5,7003 per child, of which:

  • Just under 63% (£3,568) is attributed mainly to a child’s higher lifetime earnings from increased employment and higher wages;
  • Over a third, i.e. 36% (£2,050 per child) represents savings to government arising from increased tax revenue and lower spending on public services (such as health and the criminal justice system).

The economic analysis conservatively allowed for the possibilities that 50% of the improvement in a young person’s mental health would either have occurred anyway, since some children will recover without counselling support, or that their recovery might not be sustained over time.


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.

“We believe that all schools should be able to access evidence-based mental health support for their pupils, but they cannot do it alone. Investing in school-based support as well as training for school leaders and teachers will not only help children here and now, but will have a long-term benefit for them and the wider economy well into the future.”

The report is supported by Legal & General Group. The company has many years of experience in supporting millions of adults through its Group Protection business and is keen to understand the impact of very early intervention in schools and its knock-on effect in the workplace of the future.

According to research commissioned by the Department for Education4, only 56% of primary schools offer counselling services, compared to 84% of secondary schools. More than nine in ten (93%) of all schools providing counselling services use their own budget to fund this provision.

The full report can be accessed here from Thursday 26 April

For further information or an embargoed copy of the report, please contact:

Penny Lukats | [email protected] | 0208 563 7738 | 07775 992350

Susan Rogers | [email protected] | 0207 923 5581

Notes to editors

1 The total delivery cost of all Place2Be’s services in primary schools in 2016/17 was £9.3m. This figure relates to staff costs and other overheads. It does not include non-financial opportunity costs associated with any resources provided by children, parents and the school that are not paid for by Place2Be (including for example use of school buildings and parent and school staff time). Place2Be estimates that School Project Managers spent on average 45% of their time on the counselling service, including undertaking referrals and assessments, direct contact time and clinical supervision. The other 55% of their time is used on a range of other activities involved in delivering a ‘whole school approach’, such as group work, whole class work, the self-referral service, consultation and support for school staff, parent partnership work and multi-agency meetings. Applying this 45% figure gives an apportioned cost for delivering the counselling service of £4.2m per annum.

2 This analysis focuses on Place2Be’s one-to-one counselling in primary schools in 2016/17. In this year, 4,548 children in 251 primary schools benefited from the service. Pro Bono Economics used existing evidence to link improvements in the mental health of these children to better future outcomes in seven different areas as they reach adolescence and adulthood, including school attendance, employment prospects, and involvement in criminal behaviour. The economic benefit of the programme is estimated as the total monetary value associated with improvements in these outcomes, including higher output from employment and lower spending on public services (such as health and the criminal justice system), that accrue over the lifetime of the children who attend the counselling service.

3 There is also an £88 per child benefit for other members of society .i.e. around 1% of total benefit (see footnote 23 in report).

4 Department for Education: Supporting Mental Health in Schools and Colleges, Quantitative Survey conducted by NatCen Social Research, August 2017. https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/supporting-mental-health-in-s... [accessed 6 April 2018]

About Place2Be

Place2Be is a children's mental health charity providing school-based support and in-depth training programmes to improve the emotional wellbeing of pupils, families, teachers and school staff.

  • Working in partnership with schools, teams of mental health professionals help to create a culture of openness and promote positive mental health, ensuring that potential problems can be identified at an early stage and that children can access support in a safe and familiar environment.
  • Place2Be takes an evidence-based approach – gathering, analysing and using data to challenge and improve services.
  • The charity’s Mental Health Champions programmes for School Leaders and Class Teachers combine expert consultation, advice and training to help build understanding, skills and knowledge of mental health in schools.
  • The Art Room at Place2Be provides a group work intervention in schools using creativity and art to improve the wellbeing of pupils experiencing emotional or behavioural difficulties.
  • Place2Be is also a leading provider of specialist training and university-validated child counselling qualifications, from introductory level to Postgraduate Diploma and Masters.
  • HRH The Duchess of Cambridge became Patron of Place2Be in 2013, reflecting her personal interest in and commitment to improving the mental health and emotional wellbeing of children.

Visit www.place2be.org.uk for more information

About Pro Bono Economics

The charity Pro Bono Economics (PBE) harnesses the power of economics, to help charities and social enterprises understand and improve the impact and value of their work. Set up in 2009, PBE matches professional economists who want to use their skills to volunteer with charities. We have engaged with over 400 charities and have over 400 volunteer economists on our books. The charities we help cover a range of issues including education, employment, mental health and poverty.

PBE is a charity supported by high-profile economists.  Lord Gus O’Donnell is the Chair of the Board with trustees including Andy Haldane (Bank of England), Sir David Ramsden (Bank of England) and Professor Diane Coyle (University of Cambridge).   Our patrons include Dame Kate Barker, Lord Jim O’Neill, Robert Peston, Martin Wolf and Lord Adair Turner.

Visit www.probonoeconomics.com for more information.

26th April 2018