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Protecting student wellbeing across Scotland's Colleges

By Jon Vincent, Principal of Glasgow Clyde College and Lead Principal for Mental Health

Colleges across Scotland are taking steps to protect the health and wellbeing of their students.

The sector has seen a massive growth in innovative activity aimed at safeguarding students from stress and anxiety while they completing their courses. And on Stress Awareness Day, which takes place today [November 2] we are highlighting some of the innovative work taking place in Scotland’s colleges.

Even before the covid pandemic, the Scottish Government rightly identified the mental health challenges our students face and have funded around 80 trained staff in colleges and universities who provide counselling support to students.

These counsellors have provided incredible assistance for hundreds of students at crisis-points in their lives, and to help them manage the day-to-day experience of learning and coming to college.

Scotland’s college sector has been pro-active in seeking new and innovative ways of working with students who need extra support to deal with mental health issues.

Everything from fuel poverty to the price of food along with personal and emotional strains have created challenges some are unable to cope with without assistance.

At South Lanarkshire College students, receive wellbeing “smile boxes” filled with personalised products and mindfulness resources to encourage self-care and positive mental health.

Students at Ayrshire College can book free appointments for treatments including massages, facials, reflexology and haircuts at its LearnWell Salon as part of the college’s blueprint for reducing stress.

And at Glasgow Kelvin College students will be able to attend Foundations of Stress and Self Care workshops including one on Stress Awareness Day itself.

These, and similar interventions on campuses across Scotland, demonstrate how seriously the sector takes the current mental health crisis which we are seeing in our students, who have undoubtedly been impacted by the pandemic, and now by the cost of living crisis.

The counsellor provision in colleges is essential, and even with the financial difficulties facing Scottish Government, we are calling for these posts to be funded into future years to  provide students with the appropriate help they need.

We should be planning ahead about how we can best protect student mental health before anyone reaches crisis point, and understanding the wide range of personal issues which can impact students ability to learn.

Protecting our students mental health is a clear priority for colleges in Scotland and we are working to secure the strong provision of help and support for the future.


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