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Place2Be responds to Scottish Government's consultation on mental health and wellbeing

In September 2022, Place2Be responded to the Scottish Government’s mental health and wellbeing strategy consultation. We based our response on our experience of delivering frontline mental health services in Scottish schools over the past 22 years.

A pupil drawing a colourful picture of a butterfly in chalk on a concrete floor.

About the consultation

The Scottish Government wanted to hear views on what a new Mental Health and Wellbeing Strategy for Scotland should look like. 

The Strategy will guide the work that the Government and their partners will do to improve mental health and wellbeing in Scotland and will include the following:

  • an overall shared vision
  • a set of outcomes
  • detail on how the Government will achieve this. 

It will also set out how they will measure the outcomes from the Strategy.

Our response

Place2Be's response focused on the following areas:

1. Focus on prevention and early intervention.

  • 50% of mental health problems in adults first develop before the age of 14 [Mental Health Foundation]. We must focus on prevention, early intervention and providing support at an early stage. This would lead to fewer/more appropriate Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) referrals and a long-term benefit to society and the economy (as shown by Pro Bono Economics’ recent independent report, demonstrating an £8 return for every £1 invested in Place2Be’s primary school services.

2. Systematically implement a whole school approach to mental health and wellbeing across every school in Scotland.

  • There is a growing consensus that a whole-school approach to mental health and wellbeing is an effective framework - but the Scottish Government has not implemented all eight principles.
  • Full implementation and resourcing of the whole-school approach to mental health and wellbeing should be for all primary and high schools. The Government should set a timeframe to directly respond to pressure on Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) and growing mental health needs among children and young people. 
  • Implementation should include access to whole-family approaches, parenting skills and support.
  • Continuing professional development (CPD) across the school workforce is essential – from strengthened approaches within Initial Teacher Education to a Foundation level for all staff in a school (i.e. Mental Health Champions Foundation) and strategic training and support for Scotland’s school leaders (e.g. Place2Be’s Senior Mental Health Leads training programme).
  • ‘Reflective supervision’ for teachers/school leaders (delivered by a mental health professional) should be embedded – building professional resilience and understanding of mental health in a school context.

3. Embed targeted mental health support in every school.

  • Every school (primary and high school) should have embedded evidence-based mental health support available to the whole school community. Support should be from qualified professionals with expertise in working with children and young people, using quality-assured/evidence-based universal and targeted interventions. 
  • There needs to be more clarity on how the Government will commission, fund and quality-assure this support for schools, with a partnership approach between schools, local authorities and NHS Boards.   

4. Invest in and diversify Scotland’s children’s mental health workforce

  • The children’s mental health workforce needs long-term investment to deliver mental health support across Scotland’s schools.
  • Where the voluntary sector provides training, qualifications, and an employer, they can be used as a partner, bolstering the workforce. 
  • The Government should consider bursaries and subsidies for training with voluntary sector providers. There is also the option of looking at a national apprenticeship standard for counsellors/mental health practitioners working in schools. 

5. Embed wellbeing in education from an early stage

  • Physical education is a regulated part of the Curriculum for Excellence, but mental health and wellbeing education is not.
  • Through children and young people’s education, encourage an increased focus on promoting wellbeing and positive mental health.  
  • Increase emphasis on pupil wellbeing as part of a whole-school approach to mental health in Education Scotland’s school inspection frameworks.

Download our response

You can learn more about the Scottish Government's whole-school approach to mental health on the Scottish Government's website or discover our policy work on our policy and public affairs pages.

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