School counselling support ‘patchy’

The BBC reports that more than 250,000 children in Scotland have no access to school-based counselling services, a BBC investigation has discovered.

It found that 14 local authorities had no on-site counsellors and provision by other councils was irregular. The data revealed school counsellors dealt with thousands of cases including substance abuse, self-harm and depression in the past year.

Earlier this year the Scottish government launched a new mental health strategywhich stated that “support from teachers and other school staff can be vital in helping ensure the mental wellbeing of children and young people”.

But new data – obtained by the BBC via a series of coordinated freedom of information requests – revealed that 14 councils, including South Lanarkshire and Highland, have no formal school-based counselling services for their 254,000 students.

However the number of students who do not have access to these services across Scotland is likely to be far higher.

Zoe Mason says she was in the fourth year of high school when her downward spiral began. “I was finding it hard to leave the house, to get the bus to school. I was starting to withdraw from my friends because even just having a conversation was hard.”

Zoe says she looked for support from her teachers but that they didn’t know how to help.

“It wasn’t that they didn’t care, I just don’t think they had the skills or the knowledge to know how best to support or advise me.”

Read more School counselling support ‘patchy’

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