As outlined in the Scottish Funding Council’s Letter of Guidance 2019, all educational institutions must develop their own Mental Health Strategy and Mental Health Agreement to ensure students health and wellbeing is being supported. This focus is shared by NUS Scotland with the launch of their Think Positive Campaign, an initiative funded by the Scottish Government to help progress work on breaking down the stigma of mental ill health.
As part of our commitment to this area, South Lanarkshire College created a Student Mental Health Agreement in AY 2018-19. Created in partnership with the Student Association, the Agreement highlighted four working areas as priorities; areas which will be reflected in this Strategy and Action Plan. Circulated to all current students at the time, the Agreement is available for download on the College website for all new and prospective students to review. This Agreement will be reviewed and updated in AY 2019-20.
Mental health and wellbeing is an area of increasing focus within South Lanarkshire College, and education in general. Attending College can be an extremely exciting time for students, but it can also be very daunting and present its own challenges. Students must balance assessments, deadlines and coursework alongside responsibilities in their home life.
At South Lanarkshire College we recognise that an individual’s mental health can and will be influenced by course and life factors throughout their student journey. Students may also belong to one or more vulnerable groups at any point in their lives and we will ensure appropriate support is available whenever it is required.
Part of the support available at South Lanarkshire College includes our Student Counselling provision, which has seen an annual increase in demand. A 38% increase took place in 2018/19 compared with the previous year, as well as an increase in the number of male students accessing the service. We are delighted by the Scottish Government’s commitment to acknowledge the importance of student counselling and look forward to the commitment of an additional 80 counsellors across the sector.
In keeping with the Scottish Government’s aim of ‘wrap-around support for students’ , South Lanarkshire College is committed to ensuring that students are fully supported throughout their College experience. By providing integrated support services such as student counselling, pastoral support, mindfulness classes, in addition to guidance and emotional support from fully trained staff, students should feel comfortable requesting support and advice as and when it is required.