Scottish Liberal Democrat health spokesperson Alex Cole-Hamilton MSP has today criticised the SNP Government for their passive approach to mental health provision after new figures revealed that colleges across Scotland employ no counsellors.
Data was released by more than half of the country's colleges to the Scottish Liberal Democrats in response to freedom of information requests. It revealed that the provision of mental health services is patchy. While Glasgow Clyde College employs 18 part-time counsellors, colleges from the Borders to Edinburgh and Dundee don't employ any.
The Scottish Liberal Democrat investigation comes after it was recently revealed that almost a quarter of million pupils do not have a school counsellor despite a recent report by mental health charity SAMH which estimated that three children in every classroom will experience mental health problems by the age of 16.
Commenting on the investigation, Mr Cole-Hamilton said:
“This new data shows that tens of thousands of students have no access to college counselling services despite demand for mental health support being on the rise. Provision across the country is patchy at best.
"The SNP slashed tens of millions of pounds from college budgets and the impact on teaching, support and pastoral services has been devastating.
"Children and young people are waiting hundreds of days for treatment. The mental health strategy was 15 months late and even then charities and campaigners warned it lacks serious ambition. The SNP Government have utterly failed to deliver on mental health care.
"In fact, Nicola Sturgeon's speech laying out her programme for government dedicated only 27 words to mental health. Without a stepchange in mental health, generation after generation will be let down.
“After years and years of cuts, investment is needed to repair Scotland's colleges, helping ensure they are all able to meet the need for mental health services and support among their students."