Dalziel High School was invited to be part of an exciting new pilot programme which has been devised by a team of experienced mental health trainers to raise awareness about common mental health issues which may be experienced by young people in schools in Scotland.

The programme has been designed to train S5 pupils to act as Mental Health Ambassadors within the school environment. There are three main ways in which these MHAs will encourage open and honest conversation in Dalziel High School about mental health. They will act as “information points” about mental health and wellbeing for their peers: the training equips them to answer general questions and to signpost to additional sources of information and support. MHAs will also encourage and support disclosures to Pupil Support Staff, helping to bridge difficult conversations. They will also deliver five 30-minute sessions to S2 pupils as part of their PSE programme covering topics such as dealing with stress and anxiety. Research tells us that peer education is an effective means to communicate health and wellbeing information and to promote positive messages about safety and recovery.

Twenty-four young people applied for this programme with fourteen applicants successfully being chosen to undertake two full school days of intense training to become Mental Health Ambassadors. The trainers were fulsome in their praise for each and every one of these students in terms of commitment, empathy, knowledge and understanding of the issues which can affect young people and a desire to remove the stigma which surrounds mental health. They demonstrated a genuine desire to promote awareness of the fact that in Dalziel High School it is safe to talk about feelings and emotions without being judged. These MHAs have now been awarded their badges which they justifiably wear with pride. They will be working hard to raise general awareness within the school and a ‘drop in’ space where their peers can come along to speak to them has been identified: they are also looking forward to delivering their sessions to S2 pupils in PSE. Given the high calibre and enthusiasm of the MHAs, the trainers are anticipating positive feedback from pupils, parents, and staff once the programme has been delivered.