Investment in more mental health experts is crucial for the future of young people

Mental health is one of the most important public health issues in Scotland today, and that’s why I was so pleased to see the SNP Scottish Government announce the ­introduction of 350 counsellors in schools across the nation, ensuring that every secondary school will have a counselling service.

Studies show that half of mental health problems in adulthood begin before the age of 14 and, by the time they are 16, an estimated three pupils in every class will have a mental health problem.

Early detection and intervention can be key, yet charities warn that young people do not have access to support, and schools may lack the tools to offer help. Now, as part of the Scottish ­Government’s ambitious new plans, school pupils across the country will have access to a counsellor, and teachers will have training in mental health, too.

The Scottish Government’s ­announcement includes a £250million new investment in mental health over five years, which will see the ­prioritisation of children and young people’s services. Nicola Sturgeon said the plans unveiled on Tuesday would see her Government “focused on delivering for today and investing for tomorrow”.



The Scottish Association for Mental Health welcomed the plan, saying it will pay greater attention to mental health than any Scottish ­Government programme has done before.

Already, the SNP have made improving mental health services a priority. Funding is up 40 per cent since 2006 and mental health staffing is at a record high, up 79 per cent since the SNP came to office.

The number of people working in child and adolescent mental health is going up and the number of child psychology posts has doubled over the past 10 years.

We even have the UK’s first dedicated minister for mental health, Clare Haughey, a mental health nurse herself.

Demand is increasing and the Scottish Government have vowed to take action over the next parliament.

Investment in mental health wasn’t the only ambitious policy introduced by the Scottish Government last week.



An Education Bill will help close the poverty-related attainment gap, the SNP will deliver a fairer deal for public sector workers by lifting the pay cap, and the government will implement Frank’s Law, providing free personal care for those under 65 who need it.

For families, there will be a Best Start Grant to support parents at key stages of their child’s early years.

The Government will also establish a Scottish National Investment Bank and more money will go to homelessness projects, to name just a few policies.

As the First Minister said, the Scottish Government’s plans for the next year and beyond are to shape the kind of Scotland we seek – an inclusive, fair, prosperous, innovative country, ready and willing to embrace the future.