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LOW LEVEL MENTAL HEALTH SUPPORT IN SCHOOLS

As part of the Scottish Government current programme, there is a commitment to provide counselling within schools across Scotland to support young people from P6 - S6.

Low Level Mental Health Support in Schools

Within Dumfries and Galloway, a two-year 'Youth Information in Schools Project' pilot was delivered from 2018 - 2020 working with young people to provide low level mental health support.  This project had a significant impact on young people and as part of the commitment to provide counsellors in schools, this provision was extended and expanded to run across Dumfries and Galloway since August 2020(Low Level Mental Health Support In Schools)

This project has been developed jointly as a partnership between Youth Work Services and Educational Psychology, with oversight provided by a strategic group of managers from both services.  This provision is committed to deliver flexible responsive early intervention and low-level mental health support for young people in Dumfries and Galloway.

This work is targeted at closing the poverty related attainment gap and supporting young people's emotional, behavioural, and mental health.  In line with Scottish government requirements, all Youth Information Workers delivering on the project are qualified with the necessary skills and training to work with children and young people and have successfully completed an accredited counselling skills training course through COSCA (The professional body for Counselling & Psychotherapy in Scotland).

As part of the agreed professional standards and current best practice, staff are continually offered professional development and learning opportunities, including child protection policies. This training enhances and compliments the youth work approach and better equips the Youth Workers to deliver a more effective response to ensure the best possible outcomes for young people.

The key local priorities identified with headteachers at the original pilot development stage were:

  • Early Intervention and Prevention
  • Social and Emotional Well-being
  • Promoting Healthy Lifestyles
  • Engaging Beyond the School
  • Partnership Working
  • Promoting a High-Quality Learning Experienced

The project is delivered by Youth Information Workers who can deliver a range of 1-2-1 'Blether' support (only available to S1+), evidence-based group work and issue-based programmes including:

1-2-1 Support

The 1-2-1 'Blether' programme is our 1-2-1 low-level psychological support programme that aims to help young people to learn strategies that can help them to cope with their difficult feelings.  Blether provides a safe place for young people to feel supported in disclosing anything that is troubling them. The Youth Information Worker uses various approaches such as person-centred and Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), to help a young person develop an understanding of their feelings and experiences and explore coping strategies to support young people in finding solutions and ease their distress.  Blether is often a first point of contact for young people when facing such distress and they often finish the sessions with improved emotional regulation and self-awareness, enabling them to deal with the challenges that they are experiencing.  For some, depending on their individual needs, it may lead to a referral for more specialist support.  The 1-2-1 support programme lasts between 6-8 weeks (with potential to extend to 12 weeks depending on the needs of the young person), meeting once weekly for 50 minutes per session.  All school staff can refer a young person for 1-2-1 support and young people can also self-refer.  All potential requests for assistance from other agencies and partners must inform the school before submitting a referral for a young person to our service.  

Please note, that Blether is not a crisis referral.

Evidence Based Group Work and Issue Based Programmes

The groups and programmes focus on the overall health and well-being of young people and delivered to P6-S6.  They consist of 6-15 young people and the contents of the sessions are flexible to the needs of each group.  These evidence-based groups and issue-based programmes may last up to 9 weeks with a duration of 45-60 minutes per session, these include:

  • Seasons for Growth - Seasons for Growth aims to build the resilience of young people who are dealing with significant loss or change.  The death of a loved one, parental divorce or separation, the experience and aftermath of natural disaster, moving to a new house or school... big changes like these can cause conflicting and confusing emotions.  Seasons for Growth helps young people to develop the language needed to express their feelings and gives them a safe place to talk about them.  Seasons for Growth was developed in collaboration with education, healthcare, and welfare professionals.  It is recognised within government initiatives to promote mental health and well-being in Scottish schools.
  • Living Life to the Full - Lots of people struggle at times in life and Living Life to the Full teaches a range of life skills that are based on the tried and trusted Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) approach, aiming to improve wellbeing and resilience as they go through the journey of life.
  • Mindful Warrior - This programme is based on the popular DNA-V model which helps young people develop strengths, overcome unhelpful mental habits and self-doubt, live more fully in the present moment, and make choices that help them reach their potential.  In this programme 'mindful warrior' means someone who has learned about their mind, who knows how to act with courage, and who tries to live according to what they care about or value.  It builds skills to manage emotions and resilience; learning to work with their feelings instead of fighting against them.  It is a fun, interactive programme with various games, video clips and worksheets and they create their own book to record their journey throughout the programme.

How to make a Referral

To refer a young person please use the links below:

For more information please download a copy of the referral process:

All potential requests for assistance from other agencies and partners must inform the school before submitting a referral for a young person to our service.  Young people may approach the service directly, they may have contact through over projects delivered by the Youth Work Service across D&G or through other statutory or voluntary services such as Social Work, Youth Justice or Third Sector Organisations.

The Youth Information in Schools Project is voluntary for young people to participate in and referrals should be completed with the young person's consent. A referral may be accepted or signposted elsewhere if it does not meet the criteria.  A number of criteria points for potential referrals have been identified and can be seen below:

  • You have concerns surrounding their well-being including mental and emotional health
  • Are considered vulnerable (using our professional judgement)
  • Are at risk of offending
  • Are struggling with a loss/bereavement or significant change.
  • Struggling with low self-esteem or confidence.

If a young person does not meet the criteria, this will be discussed with the professional or person who made the initial referral.

Full Year Reports:

The 'Youth Information in Schools Project' sits within Dumfries and Galloway Council's Youth Work Service and is part of a wide range of informal community based and school support for young people throughout the region. This is a confidential service for young people.

Findings Launched on Impact of Youth Work Low-Level Mental Health Support in Schools

In a research study, launched at an event on Thursday 9 November, evaluation has found that young people taking part in the Low-Level Mental Health Support Project in Dumfries and Galloway benefit by developing skills for wellbeing, increased confidence and self-esteem - and building improved attitudes about and attendance at school.

Dumfries and Galloway Council's Youth Work Service and Educational Psychology Service jointly deliver the project, providing young people with access to low-level mental health support in schools across Dumfries and Galloway.

In 2022, YouthLink Scotland (Scotland's national agency for youth work), Northern Star and the University of St Andrews were commissioned to conduct an external, independent evaluation of the impact of Dumfries and Galloway Council's Youth Work Service providing the Low Level Mental Health Support Project in schools across the region.

The aim of the evaluation was to answer two key questions - what impact the Low-Level Mental Health in Schools Project has on young people, and how that impact was achieved.

For more information please visit Latest News

The full report can be found at this link  Research Impact Report (PDF) [9MB]

Further information


Youth Work Services
Tel: 01387 251322
Email: YES@dumgal.gov.uk