Secondary school pupils will be taught to recognise signs of mental health issues in their friends and family in a new initiative from a first aid charity.
St Andrew’s First Aid has created the new Ready for Life programme for young people aged 14 and over to help create a generation of “mental health first aiders”.
It will be piloted in five local authority areas: South Lanarkshire, North Lanarkshire, Dundee, Glasgow and East Renfrewshire and it is hoped the scheme will be rolled out across the country if it is a success.
The programme aims to equip young people with the ability to spot signs of mental health issues in family and friends and enable them to reach out and provide support.
Gayle Adnyana, Managing Director of St Andrew’s First Aid, said: “Young people have suffered more than most this past year during the pandemic.
“They have been isolated from friends and activities, felt pressures from social media and endured gaps in their education throughout lockdown.
“This qualification will give each pupil a valuable understanding of mental health, how to identify potential problems and, most importantly, signpost how best to help themselves and others.”
Cardinal Newman High School in Bellshill is the first school to be involved, with students due to complete their training before the summer break.
Helen McGhee, depute head of Cardinal Newman High School, said: “Promoting good mental health in all of our young people is a key aspect of what we do as a school.
“We work closely with young people, their parents and our partners to identify and address any areas of concern.
“We are delighted that we will be working with St Andrew’s First Aid who will bring their expertise and experience to our health and wellbeing programme, including promoting good mental health.”
The Ready for Life programme, launched as Mental Health Awareness Week began on May 10, will take place over 12 hours across multiple days to fit in with school timetables.
The course will cover some of the most common psychological issues affecting young people, what to do if they experience problems and help them learn how to boost their own mental health and that of others.
Pupils will also learn about common mental health problems such as depression and anxiety and learn practical exercises on how to help manage them.
The programme will provide each young person with two certifications: one in Emergency First Aid at Work and the other in First Aid for Mental Health Awareness, with both valid for three years.
Each pupil will receive a first aid manual, training pack, first aid at work workbook and mental health manual.
St Andrew’s First Aid said that many elements of the course have been specifically selected to meet the Curriculum for Excellence guidelines, which can be adapted to pupils’ individual timetables.