(UK) Scottish Borders area $1.5M (US) mental health program; kids to learn "mental health first aid"

June 30, 2018, (UK) Selkirk, Scotland, Southern Reporter: New mental health service for youngsters now up and running in Borders [Cost: $1.5M US] Scottish Borders Council’s flagship new mental health and emotional wellbeing service is now up and running, half a year behind schedule. The initiative is being questioned by opposition councillors, though, following reports of a six-month gap affecting provision of mental health services. It was in October 2017 that the council awarded a £1.1m contract to social care charity Quarriers to deliver an emotional health and wellbeing service in the council’s nine secondary schools. Two months later, the council and integrated joint health board released a statement saying the service would begin in early January, but two weeks ago it was revealed that the service was still not fully functional as schools headed towards the summer break. Council leader Shona Haslam recently announced that Quarriers would now provide a counsellor for each high school, leading opposition councillors to query where the funding would come from and if they could expect further delays in mental health provision. At the full council meeting held on Thursday, Tweeddale West councillor Heather Anderson asked: “Our council leader recently announced that Scottish Borders Council is launching a new initiative to place counsellors in each high school to support health and wellbeing. “Could the leader provide us with the specific details, including costings and timescales, for this initiative?” Tweeddale East councillor Mrs Haslam replied: “An additional £1.2m of funding has been allocated to support early intervention and intervention support services for children and young people. “£150,000 of this funding has been allocated to mental health support in secondary schools to complement the existing work which is taking place as part of the development of our mental health and emotional wellbeing strategy. … As well as announcing that Quarriers would now provide counsellors for each school, Mrs Haslam also revealed that Borders schoolchildren are to be given mental health first aid training. The See Me project will see 800 year-six pupils, at all nine of the region’s high schools, given tuition in helping their peers during mental health crises. This includes being taught to recognise the symptoms of a panic attack and to help those struggling with depression or anxiety. … In response, Mrs Haslam revealed that the mental health and emotional wellbeing strategy was now up and running, saying: “I’m happy to give that clarity. Thee Quarriers contract is an enhanced contract, so as well as doing everything that we’ve asked them to do, they’re also installing a full-time counsellor at every high school as well in order to enhance that contract. “In terms of the programme starting, that’s completely untrue. … “It’s a massive change in the way that we’re tackling mental health, and we’re putting so much time and resources into that because it’s a priority for this council, and I think it’s taken a lot longer to get off the ground, but there is more provision now than there was under the previous contract. … A council spokesperson confirmed that the Quarriers mental health and emotional wellbeing service is now up and running, six months after it was supposed to commence. The spokesperson also confirmed that the service to be provided by the additional allocation of £150,000 will be fully operational for the new term in August and additional recruitment is now taking place.