We know that closing schools and placing restrictions on everyday life have been difficult for everyone and in particular for children and young people. We want guidance and help to be available for anyone who needs them.
The unprecedented Covid-19 pandemic means that local authorities are rightly focusing on providing adequate and effective support for our most vulnerable young people. Counsellors and educational psychologists are a key part of that support.
We want to make sure that anyone who needs support can access appropriate services. We are working to support mental health staff to maintain the integrity and quality of services across Scotland during the pandemic. Child and adolescent mental health services continue to support children and young people who are in need of specialist support, although there will be adjustments in how that is delivered to accommodate Covid restrictions
Last week, we launched a digital resource to help children and young people learn about the healthy use of screens and social media. The Mind Yer Time resource will support mental and physical health online. That is especially important now and will continue to be in the future.
I take this opportunity to pay tribute to the many third sector organisations across Scotland that are helping to support many people and their families at this time. We know that waiting times for children’s mental health services in Scotland have doubled over the past decade, so we must act now to develop the support that will be needed as we come out of the Covid-19 lockdown.
I, too, pay tribute to the third sector organisations that have supported the mental health and wellbeing of the people of Scotland before and during the pandemic and that will continue to do so after it.
I do not have the specific figures that Miles Briggs asked for, but I am happy to provide them to him. He asked specifically about distress brief interventions. In the past week, we have announced the expansion of DBIs for anyone over the age of 16 from the four pilot sites to right across the country. I am pleased that we have invested £1 million to roll that out nationally.
I hope that that information can be made public on a weekly basis.
During this time, it is important to provide resources to parents and guardians and to develop early support for young people who are experiencing raised levels of anxiety. What plans do ministers have to consider opportunities for additional training for teachers in mental health support? What work is being undertaken to identify the most vulnerable children in our country at this moment, such as young carers?
The Scottish Government is working with a range of partners to support children and families, and to mitigate the impact of the outbreak and the necessary social distancing measures that we see in education and other vital services that support children’s health and wellbeing. We are committed to getting it right for every child. We are supporting services to work together to support our most vulnerable children. As Miles Briggs will be aware, we have provided local authorities with access to mental health training for teachers. I am sure that such provision will be on-going and that the online resource will be added to over the coming weeks.