Falkirk school selected to promote new national mental health campaign

L to R: Katie Cunningham, S5 mental health ambassador; Eilidh Quinn, Mental Health Foundation Scotland project coordinator; Charlie Meikle, S5 mental health ambassador; and Jacqueline Pollock, St Mungo's pastoral head. Picture: Michael Gillen
L to R: Katie Cunningham, S5 mental health ambassador; Eilidh Quinn, Mental Health Foundation Scotland project coordinator; Charlie Meikle, S5 mental health ambassador; and Jacqueline Pollock, St Mungo's pastoral head. Picture: Michael Gillen

A Falkirk school was chosen to launch a campaign which shows the importance of support systems in preventing mental health problems.

Pupils and staff at St Mungo’s High were asked to promote the findings of a State of a Generation report due to the school’s proactive approach towards the issue.

The Mental Health Foundation Scotland study revealed hundreds of thousands of young people in Scotland feel isolated, lonely and uncertain who to turn to when experiencing mental health problems. A survey of 609 people aged 16 to 25 found 64 per cent ‘often or always’ feel pressure to meet others’ expectations, with 69 per cent stating it has a negative effect on their mental health.

Nearly a quarter (23 per cent) said they ‘often or always’ feel lonely, while just over half (53 per cent) felt that professionals would be unable to respond to their emotions in ways they would find helpful.

Though 59 per cent feel confident they know where to find help, only 49 per cent of respondents believed they could get the help needed.

St Mungo’s High pupils Katie Cunningham and Charlie Meikle (both 16) have been chosen as mental health ambassadors for younger students.

Katie said: “It’s so important young people can open up and express any concerns without it being a big taboo subject. To do this we have to start educating them about all aspects of their health and wellbeing from a young age.”

Charlie said: “As a boy, I have an insight into the way we tend to not talk about any mental health struggles we have. From experience, I can see that this only makes it worse and it can build up into a much bigger problem.”

The report recommends children are equipped with the skills needed to understand, talk about and manage challenging feelings. It also advises teaching skills required to support good mental health be embedded into the curriculum.

Meanwhile, the Scottish Government has announced professional counselling services will be available to all secondary school pupils by next September. Over four years, £60 million has been allocated to build or expand high-quality counselling service.