School counsellors face greater demands

JOANNE BENNETT
Last updated 08:55 13/12/2013

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Growing up has never been easy, but in the modern world it's never been harder.

School counsellors are being used more often, and are having to deal with more complex issues, according to Education Review Office (ERO) findings.

The key problems that students talk to counsellors about include household poverty, poor mental health, family dysfunction, bullying, relationships, and drugs and alcohol.

Any of those issues on its own would make it difficult to concentrate on school work. But there are ways and means to cope.

According to the ERO report, schools should show students referring themselves to a counsellor, strong leadership, a wide variety of people being included in the process, and a good range of preventative programmes.

There should also be good communication between the people involved, and an understanding by the school that student wellbeing is critical to achievement and learning.

The report is part of the Prime Minister's Youth Mental Health Project, which aims to improve the mental health of young people aged 12 to 19.

The report shows that students are positive about guidance and counselling in their schools, and most say they have someone they can talk with to receive support.

Students are most likely to seek help first from a parent or caregiver, and then from a guidance counsellor. Deans or friends are the next most likely.

More than two-thirds of students say it is socially acceptable at their school to see someone about guidance and counselling.

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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