Argyll and Bute Council has made significant progress in recruiting and delivering a counselling service for children and young people in the area.
The council was awarded £286,000 through the Scottish Government’s 10 year Mental Health Strategy to provide the service over the last 12 months, and a further £377,000 has been allocated for each of the next three years.
As a result, a team leader was appointed at the beginning of December and 6.5 FTE experienced counsellors have been in post since 11 January. The Argyll and Bute Alcohol and Drug Partnership has also provided funding for an additional post to ensure there is a dedicated resource for primary school children aged 10 years an up.
The Scottish Government’s 10 year Mental Health Strategy includes a number of recommendations that have already been taken on board in Argyll and Bute. For example:
The development of Our Children, Their Mental Health;
Training and implementation support for Early Learning and Childcare settings and primary schools on the Promoting Alternative Thinking Strategies (PATHS) curriculum;
And, the delivery of a Nurture and Relationships Strategy across educational establishments.
At today’s meeting of the Council’s Community Services Committee, Councillor Yvonne McNeilly, Policy Lead for Education in Argyll and Bute, welcomed the progress:
“The positive mental health and emotional wellbeing of our children and young people is a priority for Argyll and Bute Council and this funding has enabled us to provide valuable resources where they are needed most, whilst complementing existing services.
“The last 12 months have been particularly challenging for our school pupils, so it’s more important than ever that we help them in any way we can. Providing support at an early stage can have a significant impact on preventing problems from arising in the future and can lead to improvements in attainment, attendance and behaviour, as well as happier, more confident pupils.
“Whilst it is extremely encouraging to see the positive progress has already been made in the area in terms of these support services, there is still a lot of work to be done and we are committed to ensuring that every child and young person has access to the help they need without any fear of judgement.”