New Counselling Support Available

During the Coronavirus pandemic, Who Cares? Scotland has been providing emergency support to Care Experienced people across Scotland. In this time we have received 535 calls with a weekly average of 134 calls from Care Experienced people seeking support. The average age of those calling for support is 21.

This work has shown that many of our campaigning asks in the last year have never been more relevant. It is globally accepted that this pandemic has had a unique and significant impact on the mental health of the population as a whole.

In June 2019 in our report, “We Don’t Have to Wait” we called for greater mental health support for Care Experienced people.

Specifically, we asked that the Scottish Government provide Care Experienced people with personalised, free counselling and therapy with the freedom to opt out and back in at any time.


In a study conducted in 2002, among young people aged 5–17 years who were looked after by local authorities in Scotland, 45% were assessed as having a mental health issue (Office for National Statistics, 2004).

Evidence of this came through in our analysis of thousands of pieces of evidence from our advocacy database and literature reviews of past reports into the wellbeing of Care Experienced people.

In The Promise, The Independent Care Review said:

“Many care experienced children and young adults told the Care Review that they were unable to access mental health support at the point it was needed. They were often required to be ‘stable’ before receiving a service, with long waiting times and limited services not providing what they needed. The current model for mental health support for children in care is not working. Care Experienced children and young adults have found it hard to access the right support and have found they have to be in acute crisis before support is available. When available, the Care Review heard that support does not consistently recognise the impact of the trauma and abuse that Care Experienced children and young adults have often experienced.”

The evidence from our “We Don’t Have to Wait” report and the Care Review has further been evidenced from the calls received by the Coronavirus helpline, established to provide emergency support to Care Experienced people, with support of the Government by Who Cares? Scotland.

Analysis of calls received by our helpline has shown that Care Experienced people are experiencing an increased sense of isolation. Callers have had mental health support suspended or their place on a waiting list extended further. This comes at a time when they are suffering from the effects of trauma linked to abuse, neglect, bereavement and isolation.


On a solution to the poor mental health experienced by Care Experienced people, the Independent Care Review suggested that:

“Scotland must ensure that timely, trauma informed and thoughtful support therapies act as a cushion to all those that require it, regardless of diagnosis.”

With investment from the Scottish Government, Who Cares? Scotland will act as a bridge to independent counselling support for Care Experienced people.

This support is provided independent from services and from Who Cares? Scotland. Support is available for 150 Care Experienced people, for up to eight counselling sessions with a counsellor of their choice from a menu of BACP accredited counsellors and therapists (British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy).

The choice of counsellors will allow Care Experienced people to access counselling from individuals of their choice, trained in a variety of therapeutic practices, from different gender identities, ethnicities and ages.

Speaking about the new offer, Jo Holmes, the Children, Young People and Families Lead at the the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy said:

’It’s crucial our most vulnerable children and young people have easy access to trained, specialist counsellors during these difficult times, and I’m delighted to hear how this service is providing that lifeline to those in need. We know from current statistics that more young people are using the Who Cares? Scotland helpline as they struggle with additional anxiety and worries. An easy and clear pathway to speak to counsellors is crucial, timely and so very needed. It’s fantastic to see BACP and Who Cares? Scotland work together to ensure the highest possible standard for this vital service, and we look forward to collaborating in the future’’.

Am I eligible?

To be eligible for this counselling support, you will have to meet the following criteria:

Criteria for Counselling Service:-

  1. Care Experienced and resident in Scotland.
  2. 12 years of age or older.
  3. Completion of a CORE-10 outcome measurement scale completed with WC?S internal counselling team.
  4. A CORE-10 score of 10 or above.
  5. Agreeable counselling provided for up to 8 sessions only (extensions cannot be agreed at this time).
  6. Agree that a CORE-10 will completed on final session or as a follow-up once counselling concluded.

How to sign up:

If you’re interested in accessing counselling support, you can call the Who Cares? Scotland helpline on the following number: 0330 107 7540.

Alternatively you can email with the subject title, Counselling Support.

With thanks to Scottish Local Authorities, funding partners and donors who make our work possible.