Twenty new counsellors hired in Edinburgh schools as wait times for services increase

There has been a 94 per cent increase in the number of youth referrals waiting for expect treatment

By Shona Elliott
Monday, 14th September 2020, 7:30 am
New counsellors are being sent into high schools
New counsellors are being sent into high schools

More than 20 new counsellors have been placed in Edinburgh high schools to reduce the increasing number of young people waiting months for specialist treatment.

Edinburgh City Council has today announced that it has hired new mental health specialists to work in each high-school in the Capital.

Supported by new funding from the Scottish Government the counsellors will provide expert emotional support to teenagers in Edinburgh.

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This funding comes as a new report from Public Health Scotland, published earlier this month, revealed that six out of ten children and young people with referrals in Lothian are having to wait more than 18 weeks to be seen by a mental health professional.

The report also showed a sharp increase in the number of youths waiting to access services. As of June 2020, 2,482 young people are waiting to be seen by mental health professionals in Lothian, compared to 1277 in January to March 2020, an increase of 94 per cent.

Lothian MSP, Miles Briggs has welcomed the ‘necessary’ new services and hope they will provide parents reassurance.

He said: “Demand for Children and Adolescent Mental Health Services has meant that waiting times have become exceptionally long and some young people have to wait over a year to be seen by mental health professionals. I am sure that parents will be pleased that this support will now be available in schools.”

City councillors have also praised the new appointments and Clr Alison Dickie says she knows from personal experience how important it is to give teens the chance to speak about their feelings.

She said: “ As someone who experienced anxiety and depression in my teenage years, I know only too well the importance of the right support at the right time, and those important opportunities to talk.

“It’s vital that young people are able to talk about issues, and not to keep them hidden, whether that be worries about family and friends, or exam pressures and the future.

“This is something that cannot, and should not, be ignored, and this additional funding reinforces our ongoing commitment to supporting young people and their mental health.”

It is also hoped that this new service will help address the impact lockdown has had on many school pupils.

The academic stress of exams during the lockdown, competing for higher education places and being apart from friends has affected many young people in the Capital.

Cllr Ian Perry said: “One of the key issues coming through loud and clear from this pandemic has been the dramatic impact it has been having on the mental health of our young people. This funding is really welcome as it means we will now have more mental health counsellors in our schools across Edinburgh and will complement the existing work already taking place.”

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