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From a child who IS a problem to a child who HAS a problem

From a child who IS a problem to a child who HAS a problem

Learn more about our research which examined school exclusions, mental health, and one-to-one counselling.

This research paper, "From a child who IS a problem to a child who HAS a problem: fixed-period school exclusions and mental health outcomes from routine outcome monitoring among children and young people attending school counselling", was published in the peer-reviewed medical journal Child and Adolescent Mental Health (CAMH) in 2022.

On this page, you can find:

If you have any questions about this research or any of our other research projects, don't hesitate to contact our Research and Evaluation team at researchteam@place2be.org.uk.




The purpose of this research was to explore the relationship between mental health and school suspensions (previously fixed-term exclusions) for children and young people receiving one-to-one counselling.

What is a school suspension?

A school suspension is when a child or young person is temporarily removed from their school for a fixed period of time.

What we did

We analysed our data from a sample of UK children and young people aged between four and 16 who received school-based one-to-one counselling with Place2Be.

We looked at the number of school exclusions in the academic year before counselling and the academic year in which children and young people attended counselling. Mental health of these children and young people was also compared before and after counselling using the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ).

What is the SDQ?

The SDQ is a behavioural screening questionnaire used to assess the mental health of children and young people. The SDQ can be completed by the teacher, parent, or the young person themselves (age 11-17 years).

What we found

We found that children and young people who had previously experienced school suspensions were facing greater adversity and had more complex and severe mental health difficulties than those who had not experienced exclusion.

Following one-to-one counselling:

  • there was a reduction in sessions of fixed-term exclusions for children and young people who had previously experienced school suspensions
  • 74% had fewer fixed-term exclusions
  • 56% did not have any subsequent exclusions in the academic year that counselling took place
  • there was also improvement in mental health for these children and young people;

These findings suggest that school counselling could be a useful way to improve the mental health of children and young people at risk of school exclusion and reduce subsequent fixed-term exclusions.

In particular, the identification of poor mental health in students with conduct problems or attention and hyperactivity difficulties may alter staff perceptions and how they manage these students, i.e., fewer exclusions and more mental health support.

What is a mental health intervention?

A mental health intervention is something that's put in place to help improve someone's mental health. In this context, one-to-one counselling acts as a mental health intervention.


Read the full research paper

You can read, download and share the full "From a child who IS a problem to a child who HAS a problem" paper below. Alternatively, you can read a summary of the research paper here.


Research contributors

Our research team collaborated with two academics from the University of Cambridge for this research project. The research contributors were:

  • Professor Tamsin Ford, CBE
  • Sarah Golden
  • Dr Kati Toth
  • Lauren Cross.