Skip to main content
CAMHS Innovation Programme

‘The Missing Boys’ Project

Ben Nuss and Kathryn Nash

Denbighshire County Council

Project Background:

Research has demonstrated that boys and young men have more negative attitudes toward seeking psychological help and indicate less willingness to seek help for psychological problems than do females (Addis & Mahalik, 2003). This is highlighted by the literature which demonstrates that issues such as gender role socialisation (Cochran, 2005), dominant masculinities (Blazina & Watkins, 1996) and the apparent feminisation of mental health services (Morison et al, 2014) have combined to produce significant obstacles for boys and men accessing psychological help. Here in Wales, we have seen evidence of this phenomenon as demonstrated by the fact that boys and young men have been consistently under-represented in our counselling services. Since 2013-14, the first year for which official data on counselling services for children and young people in Wales was presented, male participants in counselling make up roughly 37% of referrals. That figure has decreased as evidenced in the most recent report for 2019-20 which showed the number of males accessing counselling fell to 34% of those receiving counselling.

The Project:

‘The Missing Boys’ project provides counselling to young males. It has a very clear aim – to improve therapeutic intervention engagement among male clients aged 11 – 18 who have been identified by existing local educational partners and networks as being in need of mental health support and therapeutic intervention, using recognised ‘Outdoor Therapy’ or ‘Walk & Talk’ therapeutic strategies.

The project is delivered by experienced BACP registered and accredited counsellors, specialising in work with children and young people.  They are trained in Walk&Talk therapy, EMDR, CBT and Person-Centred therapeutic interventions.