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.

Fourteen S5 applicants were successfully 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. Within their role the MHAs will act as “information points” about mental health and wellbeing for their peers: the training undertaken will enable them to answer general questions and to signpost to additional sources of information and support. They will also encourage and support disclosures to Pupil Support Staff, helping to bridge difficult conversations.

The MHAs have now been awarded their badges which they justifiably wear with pride. They also recently delivered five 30-minute sessions to S2 pupils as part of their PSE programme covering topics such as understanding 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.

Over the forthcoming months, they will be working hard to raise awareness within the school and volunteer at a ‘drop in’ space where their peers can come along to speak to them and Pupil Support Staff. S2 pupils are currently working in the Art Department to create visual representations of the messages which they have taken from the sessions: these will form part of a display in Motherwell Library during their “Love Life – Love Libraries” week in February. Mrs Nielsen and the Pupil Support team are extremely impressed by the MHAs and are looking forward to developing this wonderful resource within Dalziel High School.