Welcome to parents/carers new to St John Paul II Catholic College, and welcome back to regular readers from previous years (both of you!).
For those who don’t know, free confidential counselling is available here at school 5 days a week for students to assist them with a whole range of issues related to learning, friendships, peer relationships, family matters, handling strong feelings, risky behaviours – in fact, anything that’s concerning them.
A national survey (reported last year in Counsellor’s Corner) shows 1 in 7 Australian children had a mental health problem (depression, anxiety, ADHD, behaviour problems) in the previous 12 months.
Last year I was involved with about 1 in 8 students, either by talking with them directly or by working with staff or their parents/carers to assist them. A tenth of those students were referred by their parent/carer. (The remainder were asked to come by school staff or referred themselves.)
Students value the opportunity to talk freely without fear of offending anyone and in the knowledge that they will be listened to carefully and respectfully.
In secondary school, as young people are maturing and are able to make more decisions for themselves, parents/carers are not automatically contacted when a student comes to counselling unless the young person is at immediate risk of serious harm, but students are encouraged to let their parents/carers know they have seen the counsellor.
About a quarter of students want to talk about family issues at their first visit. Obviously if the young person is discussing their perceptions of family problems they may be less inclined to want their parents/carers to be involved.
Sometimes this reluctance is because they don’t want to give their parents/carers extra worries; in other cases they anticipate angry reactions.
Nevertheless, I find time and again that when students take the risk to raise matters with their parents/carers they get a much better reception than they expected.
Feel free to phone or come up for a confidential chat if something is bothering you about your child’s wellbeing. I look forward to hearing from you during the year.
You will also find helpful information on the school website (Current families > Counselling) about where to get help outside school for your child if that is what you prefer, and the site has previous ‘Counsellor’s Corner’ posts on topics relevant to wellbeing and teenagers today.