Improving mental health in secondary schools
Hard pressed pupils get down to work. Picture model agency.
By Democrat reporter
North Ayrshire has become the first area in Scotland to hire a full-time counsellor for each of its high schools in an attempt to improve mental health.
BBC Scotland’s The Nine, a new news programme, has learned the initiative has been rolled out to try to cut the number of young people taking their own lives.
School-based counsellors deal with cases including substance abuse, self-harm and depression.
It is hoped early intervention can help reduce distress and prevent suicides.
Councillor Robert Foster claimed North Ayrshire had one of the highest rates of youth suicide in the country.
He said: “The counsellors are available at school times or after school. They talk to pupils about a huge range of issues affecting them.”
A report by the local authority’s chief social worker said a raft of actions were being taken to help children who may be at risk of taking their own lives.
It said: “As a response to recent child suicides the Child Protection Committee set up a strategic suicide prevention group … to reduce the number of incidences of suicides by young people”.
The cost of delivering the counselling service in each of the nine secondary schools in North Ayrshire was £319,069 in 2018/19.
The money comes from Scottish Attainment Challenge funding.
West Dunbartonshire Council refused to tell The Democrat whether there were any similar plans for schools in this area.