Grant raises concern for mental health of university students banned from leaving their dorms – and calls for vigilance

Rhoda Grant MSP is raising her concerns with Scottish Government’s ministers for the mental health of students following today’s ban on socialising with anyone outside of their halls of residence or accommodation to prevent the spread of Covid-19.

The Labour member for Highlands & Islands said she wants reassurances from the government that it will encourage universities and all those involved in supporting students through this period, to utilise all support available for students who are struggling to cope mentally with social isolation.

And she has also urged all those working and supporting young people to flag up any concerns they have about a young person saying, “better to act unnecessarily than not to act at all”.

It comes after today’s Scottish Government announcement banning students from going to pubs, parties or restaurants in a bid to stem a spate of coronavirus outbreaks.

Mrs Grant said: “All steps have to be taken to stop the spread of this virus, but it will be totally unacceptable to just leave students without support. This situation is going to have a pretty catastrophic impact on young people’s mental health. We hope it’s not just their physical health but their mental health that is being looked after and that all the support available is drawn upon for them and their families.”

She went on: “In normal circumstances, students are going to university and they’re homesick, but they at least have the Freshers Week of fun and distraction. Now they’re left with just homesickness and isolation. There’s a lot of young folk breaking their hearts and parents are probably breaking their hearts too because their young ones have flown the nest. To worry that your child, because that’s what they are, is alone and scared and homesick must be so hard to bear. It’s not only the children’s mental health that will be suffering, this must be having an impact on the parents as well.

“I’m raising this with Health Secretary Jeane Freeman and John Swinney, Education Secretary. I want everyone to be aware of these young student’s mental health and I would call on all those involved in their support right now to use all the avenues of support that is available for them. Better to act unnecessarily than not to act at all.”