The Scottish government has announced that £15m will be made available to local authorities to help them support children and young people who are struggling with mental health issues.
Holyrood says the funding will be distributed to councils to support a local response for five to 24-year-olds, their families and carers.
While the funding pot will be used to help those with a range of mental health issues, £11.25m will be for services responding to the pandemic, such as support for children who are struggling emotionally due to returning to school under new restrictions.
The remaining £3.75m will be the first instalment of an annual £15m fund to provide community mental health and wellbeing services which focus on prevention, early intervention and the treatment of distress.
The minister for mental health Clare Haughey acknowledged that the pandemic had been hard for everyone but said that it had been ‘particularly difficult’ for children and young people.
‘Families have told us they need more support for mental and emotional distress and for their wellbeing and resilience, delivered in a community setting,’ she said.
‘By providing funding to tackle the impacts of the pandemic, alongside a separate fund to provide long term mental health and wellbeing support, we aim to deliver help where it is needed.
‘This funding is in addition to supporting the recruitment of an additional 80 mental health professionals to work with children and young people, and our recent announcement of a further £3.6m to help provide more than 80 additional counsellors in every college and university in Scotland over the next four years. We are also ensuring that every secondary school will have access to a counsellor.’
Responding to the funding announcement, the COSLA spokesperson for children and young people, Cllr Stephen McCabe, commented: ‘This funding will allow local authorities to continue their work to support young people’s mental health and wellbeing needs arising as a result of the pandemic, and to implement new and enhanced services, providing early support for children and young people experiencing wellbeing issues, and their families.
‘These actions will help ensure the best outcomes for our children and young people in the short and longer term.’