Church of Scotland welcomes investment in child mental health

By agency reporter
March 17, 2016

CrossReach says it shares concerns raised by the World Health Organisation (WHO) over the worrying rise in the number of children across the UK being prescribed antidepressants. The WHO's latest report found prescriptions had increased by 54 per cent between 2005 and 2012.

CrossReach is the operational name of the Church's Social Care Council and it is one of the foremost providers of child counselling services in Scotland. The organisation says its experience shows there are more effective, ways of supporting children and young people who are dealing with depression than prescribing antidepressants. It agrees with the latest findings from Dr Shekhar Saxena, the Director of Mental Health and Substance Abuse in the WHO that antidepressants have their place, but the rapid rise in prescription to children is a cause for concern.

As one of the leading organisations in the provision and training of counsellors working with children, CrossReach has welcomed the recent announcement from the Scottish Government that they plan to significantly invest in improving mental health services for children, as well as for adults.

CrossReach's manager of Counselling Lothian, Jacqui Lindsay,  interviewed on BBC Radio Scotland about about the increasing demand for child counselling services for school children, young people and families in East Lothian, said that while antidepressants can help to treat symptoms, the support CrossReach provides offers hope of a solution. The counselling services support individuals to find the root cause of their depression and then provide the tools needed to deal with other things when they strike. CrossReach's counselling services see the children and young people they support build resilience as they are equipped to face the challenges of life without having to rely on antidepressants.

The East Lothian service, without having to advertise, is in high demand. Referrals from GPs and other health care professionals have seen a 98 per cent increase over the past two years. In addition, the referrals of families for therapy have increased by almost 200 per cent over the same period. It's likely the pattern in other parts of the country is the same.

CrossReach has taken measures to meet this unprecedented need by recruiting more qualified volunteer counsellors, reducing the waiting list to between two and three months, but it wants to do more.

Over the past 10 years, CrossReach, through charitable income, has supported the training of a significant number of counsellors to obtain a diploma in Children's Counselling, significantly increasing the availability of skilled and trained professional support for Scotland's children and young people.

With many agencies in the third sector already providing excellent services supporting young people to overcome depression, CrossReach hopes to work with the Scottish Government to make suitable counselling is available to everyone who needs it.

* Church of Scotland http://www.churchofscotland.org.uk/home

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