MORE than 120 pupils and staff in secondary schools across the Borders have been planning how they will combat mental health stigma.

All nine of the region’s secondary schools are taking part in the pilot of the new See Me See Change programme to end discrimination.

Research carried out by the charity found that just 39 per cent of young people think that teachers take them seriously when they say they are struggling with their mental health and 71 per cent say they have struggled with their mental health.

In the Borders, 67 pupils and 61 members of staff, including pastoral staff, subject teachers, support staff and Quarriers practitioners, took part.

Pupils and staff went through separate sessions exploring what mental health stigma and discrimination is, the impact it can have and how it can be reduced.

In the weeks ahead, each school will work to develop an action plan which outlines the steps they will take together to eliminate stigma and discrimination in their school communities.

In the Borders, the programme has been co-ordinated by health and wellbeing support officers Yvonne Wilson and Joanne Thomson.

Ms Wilson said: “I was delighted to see how many staff and young people feel passionately about ending stigma and discrimination around mental health.

“We all want to help our young people with the growing problem that there is at the moment, around mental health.

“As teachers, we are often the first point of contact for young people who are experiencing problems with their mental health, however, many staff do not feel they have the right knowledge and skills to offer the support required. The training from See Me has given staff the confidence to have those initial conversations. One message that we all took away from the programme is that the most important thing you can do is listen.”

Ms Thomson added: “The See Me programme links in really well with our S1 to S4 Young Minds Matter PSE training, which supports our young people in better understanding their mental health and resilience. As a council, we aim to coordinate and link health and wellbeing initiatives, to make sure our young people and staff have the support they need.”

The Borders sessions were supported by See Me’s young people consultants, volunteer youth champions, and Quarriers’ Resilience for Wellbeing service.

Councillor Carol Hamilton, Scottish Borders Council’s executive member for children and young people, said: “The mental health of our young people could not be more important to us, and I am delighted that our secondary schools are really at the forefront of the See Me See Change programme and the pupils and teachers are now developing their own action plans to support their peers.”