Mental Health Support (Schools)

– in the Scottish Parliament on 25th January 2018.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Edward Mountain Edward Mountain Conservative

5. To ask the First Minister what action the Scottish Government is taking in response to reports that two thirds of teachers do not feel that they have been sufficiently trained in supporting the mental health needs of pupils. (S5F-01948)

Photo of Nicola Sturgeon Nicola Sturgeon Scottish National Party

We believe that every child and young person should have access to emotional and mental wellbeing support in schools, so we want to ensure that all teachers and staff are confident in supporting their needs.

Mental health first aid training is currently being delivered to staff in secondary school communities by Education Scotland in partnership with NHS Health Scotland. In addition, as part of the 10-year mental health strategy, we have begun work to implement an improved mental health training service for everyone who supports young people in schools.

Photo of Edward Mountain Edward Mountain Conservative

I would like to push the First Minister a bit more on that, if I may. Schools across Scotland are understaffed and overstretched, and teachers want nothing more than to support their pupils. Given that only one in 100 teachers recalls doing any detailed work on mental health in their initial teacher training, will the Scottish Government give a commitment to this chamber that mental health will be comprehensively covered in all teacher education?

The First Minister:

I will ask the education secretary to see what more we can do around teacher training. It is an important point. It is vital that teachers, at the earliest stage of their career, understand the importance of mental health.

We continue to take the action that I spoke about earlier. In December, we announced funding for a youth commission on mental health services, which will be delivered in partnership with the Scottish Association for Mental Health and Young Scot. The commission will provide recommendations on the way forward for child and adolescent mental health services and support. We also provide funding to Childline Scotland to provide confidential advice and information to children and young people.

These are important matters that we will continue to take forward. It is because they are important that we are putting forward a budget to this Parliament that increases funding for our national health service and ensures that teachers get more funding going directly to them in our schools.

If the member believes that our schools are overstretched, as he said, I ask him to please not support proposals in the forthcoming budget discussions that would remove £500 million from the amount of money that the Government has to invest.

Photo of Clare Haughey Clare Haughey Scottish National Party

I refer members to my entry in the register of members’ interests—I am a registered mental health nurse.

Can the First Minister outline what other actions her Government is taking to improve the mental health and wellbeing of our children and young people and what role the mental health strategy plays in that?

The First Minister:

The mental health strategy plays a key role in that. The strategy is backed by investment of £150 million over five years, and it sets out how we can improve early intervention and ensure better access to services, including for young people. As I said in response to the previous question, we are also funding a range of initiatives to involve young people in the discussions around mental health, including the funding for the youth commission and for Childline that I spoke about a moment ago. We will continue to take such steps to ensure not only that we are focusing on prevention—which is the most important thing—but that we have the services in place for those who need them.