Our Children, Young People and Families Lead Jo Holmes has today welcomed £4.2 million of funding for mental health counselling services in colleges and universities in Scotland.

The allocation from the Scottish Funding Council is part of a four-year programme which began in 2019 to provide more than 80 additional counsellors in further and higher education.

It aims to address the issue of equity of access for college and university students to counselling services.

Secure funding

Jo said: “We’re delighted to hear that additional counsellors have a secure funding stream for the next few years as part of the Scottish Government’s commitment to providing counselling support in further and higher education.

“We know that some of these positions have already been filled and that the demand for counselling services are high.

“Equality of access for college and university students is a fantastic offer, ensuring no matter where a post-16 student studies, there exists no postcode lottery, with the counselling offer being universal.”

After consultation with Colleges Scotland and other stakeholders, today's announcement sees £2.4 million being invested in colleges and £1.8 million going to universities.

The division of funding protects the current provision of university counselling services.

Additional counsellors

Higher and Further Education Minister Jamie Hepburn said: “We know this has been an extremely challenging period which has impacted on the mental health and wellbeing of our university and college students.

“To ensure our students have the right support in place we’re investing £4.2 million for mental health and counselling services which includes an increased allocation of £2.4 million for colleges to address equity of access to counsellors.

“We’re determined to introduce an additional eighty counsellors in colleges and universities over a four-year period and are now two thirds of the way to achieving that.”

James Dunphy, Director of Access, Learning and Outcomes at the Scottish Funding Council, said: “Today's funding allocation recognises that positive mental health is fundamental to the ability of every student to make the most of their education experience and secure their goals.

“In addition to the significant investments made in student mental health during the pandemic, this investment will have real benefits in ensuring a level playing field for all those needing counselling support.”