The Scottish Government's Minister for Mental Health attended two virtual meetings this week to learn more about East Lothian's commitment to mental health and wellbeing support.

I’m glad to see first-hand the positive impacts of this additional funding, which is already helping to provide services with children, young people and their families at their heart.

The Scottish Government’s Minister for Mental Health Clare Haughey MSP and COSLA’s spokesperson for Health and Social Care have met with staff and families in East Lothian in virtual sessions to learn more about the authority’s innovative partnership approach to providing mental health and wellbeing support.

East Lothian Council was awarded £460,000 from the Scottish Government from the Scottish Government’s COVID mental health funding. While some other local authorities have used the funding for its own services or to employ additional workers, the council has allocated the money for projects and third sector partners providing services and interventions that will support children, young people and families, including Heavy Sound CIC, Children 1st family wellbeing service, People Know How and Richmond’s Hope for its 1:1 bereavement counselling service. 

Ms Haughey attended two virtual round-table events one with council officials and partner providers and a second with families who had benefited from the support of mental health services. The purpose of the meetings was so that the Minister could hear first-hand of the benefits of East Lothian’s partnership approach which aims to ensure that those in need are supported by a range of provisions best suited to meet their needs. This is in line with the Scottish Government’s Getting it Right for Every Child (GIRFEC) national framework.

Mental Health Minister Clare Haughey said: “The COVID-19 pandemic and current lockdown has been extremely difficult for us all, not least young people. That’s why we provided £15 million for more local community services to support children and young people’s mental wellbeing at this challenging time.
“After speaking to staff and young people at the East Lothian Council’s Children’s Service Partnership, I’m glad to see first-hand the positive impacts of this additional funding, which is already helping to provide services with children, young people and their families at their heart.”

East Lothian’s approach reflects that there is no single ‘right’ way to deal with issues around mental health and wellbeing, and that specialist partners are often best placed to offer support in highly targeted ways whether that’s through school counselling services (MYPAS), outdoor activities to build resilience and self-esteem (Venturing Out), or supporting young people who are care experienced (Who Cares Scotland).   

Cabinet member for Education and Children’s Wellbeing Councillor Shamin Akhtar attended one of the sessions. She said: “I’m pleased that East Lothian’s innovative practice and the work to establish strong relationships with our partners to benefit children, young people and families is being recognised. Across the county there’s great work being carried out to help those in need and, crucially, to plan and support services that complement one another and bring the greatest benefits for the people who use them.

“I’d like to thank all of those who participated in the meetings and outlined how their commitment to mental health and wellbeing translates into practice. I’d would especially thank Inclusion and Wellbeing Service Manager Dr Lynne Binnie and Head of Children’s Services Judith Tait who have led this work within our area.”

Councillor Stuart Currie, COSLA Spokesperson for Health and Social Care and a member of East Lothian Council said: “Our children and young people’s mental health and wellbeing is paramount, now more than ever. Local authorities have committed to the development of new and enhanced mental health and wellbeing services for children and young people. I was delighted to join ‘virtual visits’ to East Lothian this week to hear from staff designing and delivering these, and particularly the children and young people utilising them. The whole-systems thinking that underpins the approach to new services and the design of accessible, flexible services will help us meet wellbeing needs both locally and nationally and help ensure the best possible outcomes for our children and young people.”

Published: Tuesday, 2nd February 2021