Wishart: Get "boots on the ground" to tackle mental health crisis in schools

Scottish Liberal Democrat education spokesperson Beatrice Wishart MSP has called for “boots on the ground” to tackle the impending mental health crisis within schools.

Following questioning from Ms Wishart in the Scottish Parliament’s Education Committee, EIS General Secretary Larry Flanagan said that there will be “an increasing number of children who have been severely traumatised” as a result of the coronavirus crisis.

Mr Flanagan continued to say:

“Schools have been stripped out of educational psychologists, they’ve been stripped out of the additional support staff, especially the staff that work with young people. So we need more counsellors, we need more specialist staff. For all of that we need extra resource.”

This comes as the Scottish Government have published “high-level advice to local authorities” that asks schools “to prioritise the health and wellbeing of children and young people when considering their learning within a blended model.”

Commenting, Ms Wishart said:

“Teachers reported that they felt ill-equipped to deal with their pupils’ mental health concerns before Covid-19. They were both feeling the effects of the loss of thousands of support staff. 

"If the Scottish Government don’t take immediate and material action, that’s only going to get worse. It requires more boots on the ground and extra support for every classroom.

"For example, mental health could be put at the forefront of teachers' CPD and there should be mental health first aider in every workplace.

“Spending time and money on supporting pupils’ and teachers’ mental health is a critical investment in our people. They’re going to need it.”

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