School Pupils and Teachers Across Lanarkshire and North Ayrshrie to Get Mental Health Stigma Training

Posted by See Me, 9 July 2019

Schools across Lanarkshire and North Ayrshire have joined up with a leading mental health programme to tackle stigma and improve mental health for young people.

A total of 76 staff, and 360 pupils are being trained in in Scottish Mental Health First Aid, and See Me’s ‘What’s On Your Mind?’ pack.

The 'What’s On Your Mind?' pack is for young people and the adults in their lives, to help build confidence on discussing mental health, look at the impact of stigma and discrimination and how we can tackle it.

Teachers and pupils began their training in May, and once it’s complete the staff and pupils will be able to take the pack back to teach in their schools. The training, which is also being run in The Borders after starting last summer, will potentially reach 23,000 pupils in total.

Getting young people to talk about mental health is a key focus for See Me. A survey released as part of their FeelsFM campaign in September revealed that only 26% of young people would tell someone they’re finding it difficult to cope, and 62% thought that people are treated unfairly if they have a mental health condition.

Kirsty, one of the pupils who took part in the training in North Ayrshire, said: “I decided to do the mental health training because mental health is a really big thing and impacts on everyone’s lives. I want to help people if they ever need someone to talk to.”

See Me youth volunteer, Sally Nimmo, 24, is helping to train the pupils. She said: “When I was in school we didn’t get anything on mental health, we didn’t know what mental health was. In PSE mental health was disregarded, so I think this is really important to give the kids space to talk about things which they have maybe never spoken about before. "The more opportunity you give young people, the more comfortable they become in speaking about it.

I think getting young people to ask questions about suicide is really useful, because they probably will have never done that before, and it is a really useful skill to have.”

John McGilp, the headteacher at Coltness High School, said: “We wanted to do the training to make sure that our school is an institution whereby people feel safe to talk about their feelings and more in particular any challenges they have.

“Health and wellbeing is the most important aspect of school life and mental health challenges are becoming more previlent. It is therefore important that we allow pupils the appropriate environment to allow them to express any negative feelings that they have and also promote a culture where they feel it is okay to express these feelings.”

Rachel Bottomley, a development officer at Stigma Free Lanarkshire, said: “What struck me the most during this pilot project was the level of commitment and enthusiasm from everybody involved, but in particular the S5’s from across Lanarkshire.”

Eilidh James, principal teacher mental health and wellbeing at North Ayrshire Council, said: “I wanted to organise this training as there is a real need for young people to develop confidence in emotional literacy. One of the barriers to this is stigma and discrimination I believe that through the work with See Me, there should be a positive impact on student wellbeing.”

Laura Sharpe, See Me’s education and young people manager, said: “Too many young people feel they can’t speak about how they are feeling, often because they worry about being judged or dismissed.

“To help young people recover from mental health conditions they need to be able to speak about it, to get care and support quickly.

“So we are delighted that schools across Lanarkshire and North Ayrshire want to help equip adults and young people to have these important conversations on mental health and tackle the stigma which still exists.”

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