Mental health services will be able to apply for government funding to help children and young people who are struggling under the coronavirus restrictions.
The Scottish Government has made £11.25 million available for coronavirus-focused mental health support aimed towards services for under-25s who are being affected by the pandemic.
Another £3.75 million of funding has been allocated for the first instalment of an annual mental health fund focused on new services for prevention, early intervention and the treatment of distress.
The Scottish Government’s mental health minister Clare Haughey said: “The pandemic has been very hard for everyone, but for many children and young people it has been particularly difficult.
“Families have told us they need more support for mental and emotional distress and for their wellbeing and resilience, delivered in a community setting.
“By providing funding to tackle the impacts of the pandemic, alongside a separate fund to provide long-term mental health and wellbeing support, we aim to deliver help where it is needed.
“This funding is in addition to supporting the recruitment of an additional 80 mental health professionals to work with children and young people, and our recent announcement of a further £3.6 million to help provide more than 80 additional counsellors in every college and university in Scotland over the next four years.
“We are also ensuring that every secondary school will have access to a counsellor.”
Stephen McCabe, the children and young person spokesman for councils’ representative body Cosla, said: “The wellbeing of our children and young people is of upmost importance to local authorities and has been a particular priority in recent months due to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.
“This funding will allow local authorities to continue their work to support young people’s mental health and wellbeing needs arising as a result of the pandemic, and to implement new and enhanced services, providing early support for children and young people experiencing wellbeing issues, and their families.
“These actions will help ensure the best outcomes for our children and young people in the short and longer term.”
Joanna Barrett from the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) said: “We know that many children in Scotland have suffered difficult and traumatic experiences over the past few months.
“During lockdown, we saw a rise in contacts to Childline about mental and emotional health issues, with some children saying they had experienced suicidal thoughts.
“Our counsellors heard from children struggling with family relationships, sharing that arguments, increased parental stress levels and abusive home environments had impacted their mental health.
“So this investment by the Scottish Government to address these issues is crucial for the recovery of our younger generation.
“But it is important we also remember and support our very youngest and most vulnerable members of society, those under five, who cannot voice the impact the pandemic has had on their mental wellbeing.”
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