How mental health services in primary schools can have long-term benefits on UK economy

Receiving one-to-one counselling could benefit children greatly later on in life

Sabrina Barr
Thursday 26 April 2018 11:05 BST

Providing primary school children with access to one-to-one counselling can be extremely beneficial for the economy in the long run, a study has found.

Place2Be, a children’s mental health charity, recently had Pro Bono Economics assess the economic impact of its mental health services.

Since being founded in 1994, Place2Be has provided approximately 116,000 children from 282 primary and secondary schools across the country with emotional support.

The charity also offers training to students, their families and academic staff.

The study conducted by Pro Bono Economics examined the mental health of the 4,548 pupils from 251 primary schools who received one-to-one counselling during the 2016-17 academic year as part of the Place2Be scheme.

The investigation discovered that the counselling scheme could lead to a number of promising outcomes including reduced likelihood of children developing depression, smoking, being absent from class and committing crime.

However, it also highlighted the overwhelming positive benefits of the mental health services on the UK’s economy in future.

According to the report authored by Pro Bono Economics volunteer Dr Allan Little, every £1 invested in the service during the 2016-17 school year could lead to a return of £6.20 to society in the form of reduced crime and higher rates of employment.

The service provided by Place2Be from 2016-17 reportedly cost £4.2 million.

However, the study estimates that the benefit of counselling the 4,548 students during that period could reach a figure of £25.8 million, an increase of around 614 per cent.

Furthermore, the benefit attributed to each individual child who received counselling could reach £5,700, as evaluated by Pro Bono Economics.

This in turn could save the government as much as £2,000 per child who’s offered mental health services while at school.

Andy Haldane, chief economist at the Bank of England and co-founder and trustee of Pro Bono Economics, spoke about the importance of raising awareness around children’s mental health.

“An estimated one in ten children and young people in the UK have a mental health condition,” he said.

“Without effective intervention, these conditions can have a significant impact on their life chances and result in significant long-term costs.

“The analysis of this Place2Be scheme shows the potential for counselling services in primary schools to generate significant economic benefits to children later in life.”

Paul Whiteman, general secretary of school leaders’ union NAHT (National Association of Head Teachers), believes that the government should take note of these reported benefits.

“It would be a sensible investment for the government to fully fund a universal rollout of mental health and wellbeing support in all schools,” he said.

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