Author Archives: Amy

Seems like everybody’s talking about mental health⤴

from @ Reach

It seems like everybody’s talking about how Scotland can get better at supporting people’s mental health. The Scottish Government have a new plan – called the ten-year Mental Health Strategy.

We like the way See Me Scotland explain why having a plan like this matters: ‘We all have mental health and the results of this strategy must be that when we are struggling, we feel safe and supported to speak out and get help, in any area of our life, without the chance of being dismissed or judged.’ 

The Mental Health Strategy has lots of plans for making mental health support for young people better. Here are some of the things it sets out to do:

  1. To review the mental health support that pupils get in schools.
  2. To look into counselling in schools and other places for young people.
  3. To think about how Personal and Social Education (PSE) lessons at school could do more to get pupils talking about mental health and teach them about where they can get info, advice and support.
  4. To get better at supporting young people with their mental health issues early on, before they get worse.
What do YOU think of the Government’s Strategy for Mental Health?
We’d love to hear your views. 

The Scottish Youth Parliament (SYP) have been campaigning about many of the issues talked about it in the strategy for over a year with theiSpeak Your Mind campaign and their report Our generation’s epidemic. MSYP Lewis Douglas recently told Reach that after talking with almost 1500 young people, MSYPs had found that “one in five young people did not know where to go for advice and support for a mental health problem. Young people also said that, as well as embarrassment and a fear of being judged, a lack of understanding about mental health is a major barrier to talking openly about the issue.”

The good news is that there are already schools that are doing some great things around mental health. For example, we just read about how pupils at Castle Douglas High School staged a take over at their school for a week to get people talking about mental health and how to challenge stigma.

Castle Douglas pupils used See Me Scotland’s What’s on Your Mind?’ pack to do their own lessons on mental health with younger pupils at the school. Genius! No wonder they even got their story on the telly… Check out what they had to say here.

 

 

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It’s not always easy to ask for help⤴

from @ Reach

If you’re having a hard time and life is getting you down, we totally get that it’s not always easy to ask for help. Here’s some of the reasons why you might not want to talk about issues in your lives:

  • No one will understand
  • I feel I can cope on my own
  • I don’t want adults interfering in my personal life
  • People might label or judge me
  • My friends won’t want to hang out with me anymore.

So why ask for help? By sharing your problems with someone you trust, you might find it easier to cope with them. And they might be able to help you find ways to change the things in your life that you want to.

We like what Childline say about this: “Someone else can often help you see your problem differently. They could give you new ideas on how to cope with things…Putting things into words often helps. Sometimes it’s just good to say what’s on your mind. Talking to someone could make you feel like you don’t have to deal with it on your own.” 

First steps. Starting the coversation might be the hardest part. Here’s 3 great conversation starters from Childline:

“I want to tell you something but I don’t know how.”
“This is hard for me to say, but I have something important to tell you.”
“I need some advice on something I’m stressed about.”

Or you could say that you’re asking for advice for a friend. Sometimes it’s easier to pretend you aren’t talking about yourself.

There’s loads more good advice on Childline’s website about who to talk to, how to plan what you want to say, and what to do if you don’t want to talk to anyone face to face.

 

 

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Young carers’ views – feeling ok?⤴

from @ Reach

Image reproduced with permission of CYPCS office. Illustrator Jenny Capon.

Young carers in Scotland recently took part in a survey for the Children and Young People’s Commissioner for Scotland. They were asked about how their caring role made them feel. Caring is different for everyone – for a lot of young carers it means spending time with the person you care for and doing other jobs around the house to help.

The young people who took part said that there is more good than bad stuff about being a young carer – one young person explained that “coping with being a young carer is difficult, yes, but I feel proud that I’m making sure my family are okay”.  But on the down side, the more caring responsibilities you have, the more stressful life can feel. Getting enough sleep can be a problem too as you sometimes help out overnight – one young person said “I get really tired a lot and really depressed a lot“. Sadly, over half of the young people who took part in the research said that they sometimes felt they had difficulties that were piling up so high they felt like they could not overcome them.

One good thing that the research found out was that a lot of young carers like school, maybe because it gives you a break from caring. Also, that after young carers’ services, guidance teachers were the most likely to be the people that young carers could get support from. One young person summed up really well the kind of support that helps:

“More awareness from people around me on how I’m coping/what I deal with. People just to listen and try to understand, be more patient with me and more flexible with deadlines/pressures. Someone specific who I can talk to who won’t judge me and who will offer support and advice. More respite activities to get a break and to have fun, relax. Workshops to help me cope better – learn techniques, understand feelings and emotions in caring are normal and not to feel guilty”. 

Image reproduced with permission of CYPCS office. Illustrator Jenny Capon.

 

To find out more about the research, check out this infographic. 

Need advice or want to meet young people in the same boat as you? Babble is an online space where under 18s who are caring for a family member or friend can chat, share their stories and get info and advice.

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Your say: how my teacher supported me the day I went into care⤴

from @ Reach

“I was heading down a road that would help me. The road would change my life forever and anything was better than the war zone.”

Young spokesperson for the Fostering Network has his say.

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Young people in foster care have their say “Give me a chance”⤴

from @ Reach

Young champions from the Fostering Network Scotland have made an ace film called “Give me a Chance” about the positive role that foster care can have in young people’s lives. Here’s what they told Reach.Scot about why they did it….

“We made this film because we wanted to highlight the challenges children and young people can face in everyday life when placed into care, which is no fault of their own.  This film is the experiences of 9 people rolled into 1.

We chose the medium of film because we personally don’t usually pick up leaflets when out and about, but if something of interest is on Social Media we are more inclined to click on it and share it with our friends.

This film is for everyone, for those in care themselves and carers, teachers, social workers and for classmates of anyone who is in care.

We hope people discuss the positive impact a foster placement can have on the life of a child/young person and how when given the chance, any child can achieve their positive potential.”

If this film has raised any questions or issues for you, or if you’d like to find out more about the Fostering Network Scotland’s Young Champions, you can call the Fosterline Scotland on 0141 204 1400 or email fosterlinescotland@fostering.net

 

 

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Getting it right for all pupils⤴

from @ Reach

Here’s something that can make a big difference to pupils’ lives. Ever heard of GIRFEC? It’s short for Getting it Right for Every Child. GIRFEC helps the adults who support you to work together to make sure you are ok and that you get the support you need. Check out this GIRFEC wheel picture. Teachers and other people who support you might use this wheel when talking to you about what is going well in your life and where you need more help.

What does GIRFEC mean for you?

GIRFEC should make sure that:

  • You understand what is happening and why.
  • You have been listened to and your wishes have been heard, understood and taken into account.
  • You feel confident about the help you are getting.
  • You are involved in discussions and decisions that affect you.
  • You know you will get support that is right for you as soon as possible.
  • People that are supporting you work together to make sure you get the support you need

Check out Ryan’s story to get an idea of what GIRFEC looks like in real life.

GIRFEC isn’t that easy to get your head around. One council has made an app to help make sense of it, worth checking out. 

Here’s how some of the older pupils at Gourock Primary  have helped people understand what GIRFEC is about by setting up a social enterprise. If your secondary school have done any projects like this, would be great to hear from you.

“The Games Café began with an idea from our P6 pupils in the school. They wanted to make sure that the rest of the pupils in the school knew the 8 wellbeing indicators. They thought of a game board with the wellbeing wheel in the centre and some stops around the outside where the player would think about the indicators. The Girfec Gameboard with question cards was completed and printed a year later.

We entered a local Dragons’ Den style competition where we pitched an idea to spread the word of our Girfec Gameboard through a Games Café for the school and community. This was a Social Enterprise bid and all funds would go to our Partner school in Malawi.

The Games Café has been running since August 2016 and already we have had parents, pupils and members of the community coming along to the Games Café for a coffee or tea, home baking and a chance to play the game.”

A big thank you to the Girfec Group at Gourock for writing this – Jess, Adam ,Duncan, Ellie & Maya.

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What helps young people feel included in school?⤴

from @ Reach

Hello, I’m Mark, I’m a 17-year-old pupil at school in Cumbernauld and I’m the Inclusion Ambassador for North Lanarkshire.

I went to Luxembourg to represent Scotland in a Europe-wide inclusive education conference. When we were there I got a good idea of what was important for pupils all over Europe – the key message is “Everything about us, with us”. We want to be heard and we want to have a say in anything that has to do with us. We are the experts in our own needs and we know what works and what doesn’t.

This is not just a message for politicians. It is the teachers that make the immediate difference to how inclusive a school is.

Take my school – before I moved up to high school my year head met with my parents and me. We worked out barriers for me in and around the school, spoke with teachers in private to make sure they understood my needs and made a clear plan for every type of situation at school. This might all seem quite a bit of work for one pupil, yet this only took three meetings and it was all made so much easier because of the talking and listening that went on between me and the teacher.

Sadly, some pupils do not have such a good experience as me, which is why I’m pleased to be one of the Inclusion Ambassadors for Education Scotland. We are a national group of young people who act as a ‘voice’ for pupils on inclusion. We share our views and experiences with Scottish Government Ministers, local authorities and schools. We are hoping to develop resources, a school pledge and a film in the coming months.

Here are three of our top priorities to make schools more inclusive:

  • Social Problems: being excluded at break times and not having enough chances to be included and make friends are big issues. My school found a way around this by setting up a club where pupils could play computer games and socialise. This helped pupils who were often quiet to come out of their shell.
  • Issues with Support staff: For some pupils (but not all), having support staff can sometimes feel like a barrier to their social life, and they might not need them as they get older.
  • Awareness: We feel that there isn’t enough done by schools to raise awareness of the issues that pupils face or the reasons they need support. The worst thing schools can do is to pick out a specific pupil – that’s just everyone’s worst nightmare – but what schools can do is to educate the year group that other people have different needs and promote the fact that you are a diverse and inclusive school so it’s great to have all types of pupils.

For me, talking and listening are the key to true inclusion because without this everything you might be doing could be entirely irrelevant to the pupil. After all, how can you include someone who isn’t involved in the conversation?

 

 

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The First Minister Nicola Sturgeon is listening to 1,000 care experienced voices⤴

from @ Reach

“I’m Lynzy and I work as the Policy Ambassador for Who Cares? Scotland. I also grew up in care. Who Cares? Scotland is an independent advocacy and campaign organisation that works with care experienced young people, helping them to be listened to. We know that when young people are heard great things happen. The last time the Scottish Parliament listened to care experienced young people, a law called the Children and Young People Act 2014 was brought in and it included some of the biggest changes to care in a long time. However, we know that bigger changes are still needed. This is why Who Cares? Scotland came up with the 1000 Voices campaign.

1000 Voices asks that 1000 care experienced young people’s voices are listened to by the First Minister. We hope that by hearing from 1000 care experienced young people the First Minister will understand how things can be made better for them. In September 2016 the First Minister visited our national office in Glasgow and I got to meet her.  After she had spoken with us she decided to back the 1000 Voices campaign over the next two years. Not long after this, she also decided there should be a review of care in Scotland.

As someone with care experience I think it is vital for our voices to be heard. We are the ones that live in care so we know how it really works and what it feels like, better than anyone else. Sharing things about yourself can be scary at the time, but afterwards I have always felt empowered. I remember the first time I shared my story, I felt like a bag of nerves but then I felt really listened to. I felt that everything I said had meaning and that finally my story was being understood and not judged.

I believe that the First Minister listening to 1000 voices could improve the life chances of young people who come into care. I especially hope that ‘1000 voices’ can make it easier for care experienced young people to get the support they need to get the most out of their education. Young people in care already face lives full of upheaval and uncertainty. They must cope with being separated from their families, adjusting to a new way of life, getting to know new people, as well as going to meetings, reviews and children’s hearings. Even though care experienced young people have the right to extra support in school, this doesn’t always happen. I believe that if our views are listened to, more people will understand what support we need in education and how important it is that we get it. We could improve the chances of care experienced young people going on to college and university, something that a lot of us never think we can achieve. I believe that if we, care experienced young people, are listened to, there is so much more we can achieve in the world.”

 

If you are interested in hearing about how you can get involved with 1000 Voices, contact hello@whocaresscotland.org.

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