MORE counselling will be available for school pupils in East Renfrewshire as interim measures are introduced due to Covid-19. 

Work on a new mental health service has been delayed by the pandemic, preventing a procurement process taking place.

That process has now begun but, in the meantime, the number of counsellors – commissioned from Recovery Across Mental Health (RAMH) – will be doubled to six to provide access to support for primary seven and secondary school pupils.

A ‘Recovery Team’ has also been set up, which includes a range of practitioners from education, social work and health. These staff will be able to provide one-to-one interventions for pupils.

Two members of staff in each secondary school and one in each primary will take counselling and psychotherapy training.

Sessions will also be available to young people to “provide them with tools to prevent them becoming ill” and to “support their peers on a day-to-day basis.”

The interim measures will overlap with the new service, a council officer told education committee members.

Another officer added: “Youngsters are much more aware of their mental health. It has not got the stigma, I think, that it used to have.

“We don’t need to wait until someone is in crisis and that is what these services set out.”

In July last year, the Scottish Government committed £12million to councils to deliver access to school counselling services.

The council’s education psychology service worked with partners to create an East Renfrewshire framework, with the aim of supporting parents, carers and young people with their mental health.

Known as Healthier Minds, it was launched in February this year and contains information and practical advice to “manage life’s challenges.”

Councillor Paul O’Kane welcomed the “relentless focus” on mental health.

He said: “The stigma has really reduced in recent times and we see a really robust package of measures going forward.

“I think I’d like to highlight the Healthier Minds piece of work. I think that has been vitally important during lockdown and I know it will continue to flourish and grow going forward.”