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Scotland: Mental health lottery found in schools

SCOTTISH Labour called for urgent action from Holyrood yesterday after uncovering a “postcode lottery” of mental health services available to school children.

Fourteen of Scotland’s 32 councils do not employ a mental health worker in schools and a further 12 do not hold information about the role, Labour found through freedom of information requests.

The findings come despite SNP Mental Health Minister Maureen Watt claiming in January that a mental health link worker was available in every school.

Scottish Labour inequalities spokeswoman Monica Lennon warned of a “crisis” in child and adolescent mental health services, with “thousands of children waiting several months for treatment — often, in the end, only to be turned away.”

She said there was “utter confusion” over what the mental health link worker role should be and who should fulfil it.

“If young people get early support, we know a mental health problem can avoid becoming a crisis,” Ms Lennon added.

She called on the SNP to “act urgently to explain what support exists and that they will give serious consideration to putting our school counselling plan in place.”

Scottish Labour has put forward a plan for school-based counselling, supported by children’s organisations, which would give our young people access to support when they require it.

The Scottish government insisted that a mental health link worker was available for every school, though the role isn’t a specific job title and may be carried out by someone else.

A spokeswoman said: “We take child and adolescent mental health very seriously and that’s why our new Mental Health Strategy is committed to a review of personal and social education in schools to ensure every child has access to any appropriate support, counselling, or pastoral guidance they may need.”


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