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Education / School counselling service in demand

THERE are nearly 80 active cases in Shetland’s recently established secondary school counselling service, a meeting heard this morning (Tuesday).

Quality improvement officer Lesley Simpson said the demand for the project meant that there is also a waiting list.

“It’s a very well used service at the moment,” she told a meeting of Shetland Islands Council’s education and families committee.

In 2019 councils across Scotland were awarded multi-year funding from the Scottish Government for introducing a schools counselling service to support secondary pupils with any mental health worries.

The service began in Shetland last year, and as a sign of the times many sessions have been carried out remotely due to the pandemic.

Simpson said some meetings have involved face to face contact where necessary.

There have been youngsters from across Shetland, right through all ages, coming forward for support, the meeting heard.

Following questioning from Shetland member of the Scottish Youth Parliament Jonathan Dorrat, Simpson added that the referrals had come through a number of sources, including parents as well as GPs.

Councillor Moraig Lyall, meanwhile, said it was generally agreed that boys may find it more difficult to open up about their problems than girls.

With the school counselling service consisting of only female staff, Lyall asked if there might be the opportunity for a boy to speak to a male counsellor if that made them more comfortable.

Simpson said the gender balance of the staff was “just how recruitment went”.

She said the service has looked at bringing in an outside worker as a contingency if needed, but to date no boy has requested this.