BACP’s Four Nations Lead, Steve Mulligan, sets out the work we're doing to influence the refresh of the ten year Mental Health and Wellbeing Strategy, as well as calling on members to help us amplify our voice through the current consultation on the strategy.

The Scottish Government's ten year Mental Health and Wellbeing Strategy, was launched on 22 July and closes on 9 September. This is an important opportunity to help shape public investment in mental health in Scotland over the next five years and we're keen that BACP members, partner organisations and counselling and psychotherapy services also develop your own responses to ensure that the Scottish counselling sector’s voice is fully represented.

Having your say

To assist you in responding, we've produced a guide which sets out our key positions against each of the 18 sections of the consultation document. This also includes links to the consultation document and tips on completing the online response form. We're particularly keen that the direct experience of members and your clients is expressed, and the consultation response form includes a number of opportunities to add testimony and evidence in free text areas. BACP’s reference guide on the Mental Health and Wellbeing Strategy can be found in the useful links section below.

Our full response, which will be finalised over the coming weeks will include additional evidence, references and analysis to underpin our 32 recommendations.

Working together

Over the course of the summer we’ve been in dialogue with services and individual counsellors and psychotherapists working directly in schools, colleges, universities and across health settings to help us better understand the challenges they're facing. We're consulting with a range of partners including SAMH, Colleges Scotland, Universities Scotland, HUCS Scotland and others across the wider mental health sector to help us identify shared commitments that we'll be calling for in the strategy.

What does the strategy say?

There are many positive elements in the consultation document that BACP supports. We’re pleased to see clear recognition of counselling as an integral part of Scotland’s mental health workforce, acknowledgement of the critical role of the third sector and a much greater focus on addressing mental health inequalities for marginalised people and communities. We also particularly welcome the proposals to improve conditions for Scotland’s mental health workforce, including greater access to professional supervision, opportunities for continuing professional development (CPD), improved careers progression pathways for the mental health workforce and a greater focus on improving workforce diversity. A core concern is that without appropriate increases in investment much of this ambition won’t be realised.

Our main asks

From our discussions and analysis we've identified 32 recommendations that we'll be calling for in our final response, including:

  • commensurate funding and improved cross departmental working to drive forward the extensive changes called for in the strategy
  • extending funding for counselling in Scotland’s secondary schools, colleges and universities to the end of the strategy period in 2027-2028 alongside actions to improve standards, workforce development and links with local health services
  • greater access to counselling for all ages across Scotland by ensuring that counselling is part of the new mental health support being made available through GP surgeries
  • actions to address the barriers which prevent counsellors, psychotherapists and coaches from entering the NHS workforce, including a new pilot project to develop a funded and salaried training pathway for new entrants into counselling and psychotherapy
  • improved parity for counselling within the mental health workforce, a review of pay scales for counsellors and psychotherapists to ensure that they are in line with the salaries for other professional groups delivering the same or similar interventions, and action to support career progression including access to CPD
  • a commitment to multi-year funding agreements for the Mental Health Strategy period. This would help to ensure that third sector and community counselling providers can deliver more sustainable programmes which deliver continuity of support, reduce the recruitment challenges associated with annual contracting arrangements, as well as ensuring that staff have greater stability and continuity of employment
  • further action to improve the diversity of the counselling workforce alongside the development of trauma informed and culturally sensitive services to better support diverse communities across Scotland

Share your thoughts with us 

We're also keen to receive any further thoughts you have on our proposed recommendations, including details of additional policies you'd like us to consider adding. Please email your comments to our policy team.  

Useful links

BACP’s guide to the mental health strategy (1MB pdf)
BACP's guide to the mental health strategy (1.3KB Word)
The Scottish Government’s Consultation portal for the strategy