Men­tal health cash wel­comed

The Oban Times - - YOUR VIEWS -

The de­ci­sion by the Scot­tish Govern­ment last week (Septem­ber 5) to put men­tal health at the cen­tre of its Pro­gramme for Govern­ment is to be greatly wel­comed .

The ad­di­tional £250m of re­sourc­ing pledged will seek to de­liver, among other things, 250 school men­tal health nurses and 350 coun­sel­lors in schools. This an­nounce­ment came on the same day that it was noted that men­tal health wait­ing times for chil­dren and young peo­ple are the worst on record.

As a coali­tion we have strongly sup­ported the mer­its of early men­tal health in­ter­ven­tion, which can have an in­cred­i­bly pow­er­ful im­pact on the lives of chil­dren and young peo­ple, with ben­e­fits con­tin­u­ing into adult­hood. In this con­text, the abil­ity to ac­cess school-based coun­selling ser­vices at an early stage in a con­ve­nient lo­ca­tion can prove truly trans­for­ma­tional.

Un­like other parts of the UK, how­ever, there are lim­ited coun­selling ser­vices in Scot­land. In­deed, Scot­land is cur­rently the only UK coun­try with no na­tional strat­egy for school­based coun­selling ser­vices. The pro­vi­sion of 350 coun­sel­lors is there­fore, to be greatly wel­comed.

Coun­selling ser­vices are guar­an­teed in all sec­ondary schools in North­ern Ire­land and

Wales. In Wales the vast ma­jor­ity of chil­dren and young peo­ple who re­ceived coun­selling (85 per cent) did not re­quire any form of on­ward re­fer­ral once coun­selling ses­sions had been com­pleted.

The ben­e­fits are there­fore ob­vi­ous and the cost of five ses­sions of coun­selling is equiv­a­lent to just one con­tact with men­tal health ser­vices.

It is great to see Scot­land now fo­cus­ing on the de­liv­ery of coun­selling ser­vices in our schools and recog­nis­ing the in­cred­i­ble ben­e­fits this can bring. The Scot­tish Chil­dren’s Ser­vices Coali­tion

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