Fourteen Scottish councils provide no school counsellors
Investigation for BBC reveals lack of school-based counselling across Scotland
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Fourteen local authorities in Scotland provide no counselling services within their schools, an investigation by the BBC has revealed.
In other council areas, provision was patchy, meaning only 40 per cent of secondary pupils in Scotland have access to mental health support within their school.
Councils have said other support is available, such as through the NHS or out of school support services via referrals.
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The figures, released under freedom of information, come despite the Scottish Government’s new mental health strategy stating support within schools can be “vital in helping ensure the mental wellbeing of children and young people".
The strategy promised to review the provision.
South Lanarkshire, revealed the BBC report, has no in-school counsellors while neighbouring North Lanarkshire has one in every school. Others with no school-based counselling include Highland, Aberdeenshire, Angus, Perth and Kinross and Stirling.
Scotland’s mental health minister Maureen Watt said: “Education authorities and all those working in our schools have a responsibility to support and develop the mental wellbeing of pupils, with decisions on how to provide that support taken on the basis of local circumstances and needs.
“Some will provide access to school based counselling - others will utilise the skills of pastoral care staff and liaise with the Educational Psychological Services and health services for specialist support when required.”
The investigation follows another by the BBC which found the number of under 18s prescribed antidepressants has doubled in Scotland since 2009/10.
Meanwhile thousands of children wait several months for treatment from Children and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS). Many are then turned away because they have been wrongly referred.
Labour inequalities spokesperson Monica Lennon said: “Access to school-based counselling should be available to all pupils and Scottish Labour has been challenging the Scottish Government to implement our proposals for over a year.
“There is a growing child mental health crisis in Scotland and a lack of ambition on the part of the Scottish Government to respond, so we share the frustration of charities, parents and teachers.”
In Wales school-based counselling is enshrined in law, but CAMHS waiting times remain high.
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