Originally published in The Love Issue, February 2016
Nicola Sturgeon has announced a £54 million boost for mental health services in Scotland. The money, which is going to be spread over the next four years, will be used to expand provision for young people. This is especially necessary for Glasgow University’s services, which have been under significant and consistent strain over the years to assist students in university life, and all the stressors that come along with it. The latest funding would aim to offer treatment to an additional 10,000 patients in the first year, and increase of about 25% on current numbers, rising to 20,000 in 2019/20.
Sturgeon mentions that “Scotland was the first country in the UK to have a mental health waiting times target: a sign of how importantly we view this issue.” But I’m sure that some students feel that this should have been implemented much sooner: it’s been a long time coming to receive this much needed leg-up. The Glasgow University Counselling Services have a 3 month waiting list to receive treatment, on top of around a month waiting for assessment. From personal experience, the services don’t provide the clearest information either: I thought I was finally beginning my treatment only to hear “well, we’ll get in touch.” It was a particularly impersonal experience and I felt as if it was an interview to determine if I was some form of valid candidate for help.
But I don’t want to diminish their truly supportive work and the sensitivity with which they deal with those who come to them for help. I’ve heard my fair share of stories about unsuccessful sessions, but great work is still being put into the service: making students feel more aware and in control of their lives. In addition, they do have drop in services you can book early in the morning for that day, if you need a conversation with someone who will treat you with respect and with anonymity.
So thank you, Scottish government, for giving some slack to those who aren’t always prepared to give it to themselves.
[Evan Morden Osborne]