More support for student wellbeing

Mental health services at colleges and universities.

Students will have access to improved mental health support following the funding of an additional full-time officer to expand student mental health agreements.

The agreements with colleges and universities, which include increasing staff training and reviewing existing mental health policies, bring students’ associations and their institutions together to work jointly on mental health issues.

The £36,000 funding for this role from the Scottish Government, which will support National Union of Students (NUS) Scotland’s Think Positive campaign, was announced as three Scottish Ministers met students’ association presidents from around the country to agree steps to improve support for student mental health.

The event was jointly hosted by Further & Higher Education Minister Richard Lochhead and NUS Scotland, who were joined by Mental Health Minister Claire Haughey and Housing Minister Kevin Stewart.

Mr Lochhead said:

“Alongside my ministerial colleagues, I’m pleased to have had the opportunity to listen to the experiences of students and assure them of our commitment to ensuring every student has the opportunity to achieve their potential, no matter their background.

“NUS Scotland research shows more students are trying to access counselling services at college or university. The Think Positive Campaign and student mental health agreements are focused on having the very best support available on campuses.

“The Scottish Government will continue to work with student unions at every opportunity so that our campuses can be transformative places where students not only achieve academically, but where their wellbeing is supported and nurtured.”

NUS Scotland President Liam McCabe said:

“Improving mental health services for students has long been a campaigning priority for NUS Scotland, and we were pleased to see the Programme for Government recognise the need to tackle the mental health crisis unfolding on Scotland’s campuses.

“We welcome the announcement of enhanced mental health provision, that will include the introduction of more than 80 additional counsellors over the next four years, beginning in academic year 2019/20. We also welcome today’s additional funding from the Scottish Government, and look forward to continuing our work with them and other partners to ensure everyone can access mental health support on campus.” 


In addition to discussing student mental health, Ministers listened to student experiences and questions around equalities issues, student support and living costs. Ministers and NUS Scotland leadership signed up to a joint statement on how they will challenge each other to provide a transformative experience for young people throughout their further and higher education.

The statement was agreed by NUS Scotland and Richard Lochhead, Shirley-Anne Somerville, Claire Haughey and Kevin Stewart.

Additional funding of £251,530 over three years for NUS Scotland was announced in March 2018 to help colleges and universities have a student mental health agreement. So far 25 institutions benefit from these agreements and the additional £36,000 will help increase the number of colleges and universities with these agreements in place.

NUS Scotland research shows there was a 76% increase in the number of students seeking counselling at colleges and universities in 2016-17. 

The Scottish Government has worked with NUS Scotland supporting their Think Positive project.


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