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Highland schools to benefit from mental health initiative

By Staff Reporter- NOSN

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PUPILS in the north are set to benefit from a new mental health initiative being run as part of the active schools programme.

A total of 210 schools in the Highlands will have access to active school coordinators that will be trained to manage mental health, as well as physical health, as part of a new partnership between SAMH (Scottish Association for Mental Health) and sportscotland.

Launched by SAMH’s long-standing ambassador, multiple Olympic gold winner Sir Chris Hoy, the new initiative will offer mental health training to 400 active schools coordinators across Scotland.

The partnership with sportscotland aims to help the next generation of young people protect their mental health through physical activity and sport.

The 400 strong group of active schools coordinators will benefit from a mental health training programme that teaches practical ways of monitoring and managing mental health through their work in schools across the country.

Highland-based active schools manager Mags Duncan said: “Further education, across the board, on mental health awareness is really important, especially where young people are concerned.

“We are engaging with young people every day and have the opportunity to identify signs that an individual is struggling with their mental health in the early stages. In doing so, we can make a difference through early intervention and make a real, positive difference if we think something is wrong.

“With this training provided by SAMH we will be better equipped to handle these situations with confidence and, hopefully, make a difference to the lives of the young people of Scotland.”

Sir Chris Hoy, who launched the new mental health initiative for Active School co-ordinators.
Sir Chris Hoy, who launched the new mental health initiative for Active School co-ordinators.

SAMH launched its first sport and physical activity campaign in 2009 alongside Sir Chris Hoy. Together, the Olympian and SAMH have spent the past decade tackling the barriers that prevent people with mental health problems from improving their physical fitness.

Billy Watson, chief executive of SAMH, said: “We’re thrilled to announce this strategic partnership with sportscotland which we believe could be a major breakthrough in building the mental health and wellbeing capacities within sports and their organisations. Sportscotland’s leadership on mental health is setting the standard that we hope others will live up to.

“It is especially pleasing that we will be getting to work immediately in schools right across Scotland, so our young people can carry a new understanding and resilience around mental wellbeing, through sport and physical activity, for generations to follow.”

Sir Chris said: “I’m proud to mark 10 years as a SAMH ambassador by launching a new partnership that will help the next generation of young people have better mental health through physical activity.

“I’ve experienced some of the biggest highs in sporting history but there have been low points too. During those low moments it was cycling that gave me the strength to keep going.

"I’m a real believer in the link between physical activity and good mental health as I know how my mood and wellbeing can be affected if I don’t manage to get out on my bike regularly.”

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