18 May 2022
The BPS is pleased that the Scottish Parliament’s Committee for Health, Social Care and Sport report into the health and wellbeing of children and young people explicitly responds to several of its key recommendations and evidence.
The society submitted a written response to the committee’s call for evidence and Heather Connolly from the BPS’ Scottish Division of Health Psychology gave evidence to the committee’s formal oral evidence session.
The report calls for the government to ensure that the long-term impact of the pandemic remains a key consideration in the future design and development of mental health services and support for children and young people, something the BPS explicitly expressed was vitally important, with future policies taking into account the impact of the pandemic on physical health, mental health, education, and social lives.
There is also a focus on the need to expand and develop the psychological professions as an integral part of the public sector workforce, with BPS evidence highlighting the importance of a properly resourced and sustainable mental health workforce to meet the needs of the Scottish population.
The need to mitigate the adverse impact of poverty on the health and wellbeing of children and young people was emphasised, with Heather Connolly quoted saying that, ‘poverty sits in the middle of all the wider determinants that impact our health and wellbeing’, and adding that she warned ‘that a failure to tackle poverty would have a knock-on impact on the use of services that support the health and wellbeing of children and young people’.
Responding to the report, Heather Connolly said:
“The comments about poverty really struck me. What came across during the evidence session was that committee members really acknowledged the complexity of the impact of poverty on health and understood the need to mitigate these effects.
“Hopefully, this can be used as a springboard for getting psychologically-informed policy and practice into wider health and social care services. However, it is not enough to have a sufficiently-funded psychological workforce. I believe all staff working in health and social care could benefit from having some psychological knowledge of the determinants of health and the adverse effects that poverty can have on people’s health.”
Scottish Branch co-chair Dr Rob Morris welcomed the report, saying:
“We are delighted that the committee has used the BPS’ evidence and recommendations to support the actions it is proposing.
“We hope the government will now act on these recommendations to ensure that the health and wellbeing needs of the children of Scotland are fully met.”
Fiona Mackay, the branch’s other co-chair, said that the BPS Psychological Manifesto (Scotland) 2021 had highlighted the importance of prioritising the mental health needs of children and young people, adding:
“In addition, from a public health perspective, it is vital to consider vulnerable and minority groups, who are too often overlooked.”