The recent ‘Maroon’d’ Gala 7s at Netherdale was the perfect event to highlight the work that Quarriers Resilience for Wellbeing Service is doing in the local community to break down the barriers to good mental health.

Gala 7s is a huge community event and the ideal place to have a stall to show what the aims of the service are. Those are, forging strong relationships with the local rugby clubs to raise awareness around mental health, tackle stigma and remove barriers that prevent young people from accessing mental health support.

Douglas Crawford, who is a Resilience Practitioner, is part of a team of 17 who predominantly work in the secondary and primary schools in the area, while he concentrates on taking the mental health awareness message to the Borders rugby clubs.

The Borders Resilience for Wellbeing Service, which is overseen by Angela Freeman, supports young people from ages 16-21 years old to cope with their mental health and emotional wellbeing.

She said: “Our main core services are school-based. I have wellbeing practitioners across each of the schools in the Borders, and we also support primary six and seven children as well. We promote a positive culture for mental health in schools and the rugby community throughout the Borders – so that the young people can support each other on and off the pitch.”

Funded by the Scottish Government, Communities Mental Health and Wellbeing Fund, the rugby branch of the service is now in its second season.

Douglas said: “We are taking this message out to sporting environments where young people may feel more comfortable, in particular rugby, as its importance in the Borders is well known.

“I am predominantly with the young people delivering on-pitch mental health awareness sessions during training. It’s sometimes easier for young people to talk about their emotions while they are distracted and throwing a ball about. We’re not trying to fix things for young people, we are giving them the information they may need to cope when times get tough.

“Teaching the young people coping strategies is so important and informing them about wider support services that they can access means they can make informed choices.”

Service co-ordinator, Angela Freeman added: “The school-based services we provide showed that there was a lack of uptake in young people between the ages of 16-18, and we thought we have to be creative to reach them. Douglas, who is very involved in Borders rugby, knows the issues that young rugby players may face, and we have come up with a strategy to help them cope when difficult times arise.”

Douglas continued: “We help them deal with their emotional responses when they make mistakes; behavioural issues at school and on the pitch; educate them on sleep hygiene, talk about relationship difficulties, and also how to deal mentally with injuries when they can’t play.”

Young people can refer themselves. Parents, carers, teachers and the Development Officers at each club can refer as well.

“We work across the eight youth rugby clubs in the Borders, building relationships with the Development Officers who may spot an issue with one of the players that we can help with.

“We also do in-the-moment support,” continued Douglas.

“It’s a blend between being quite reactive when something pops up or creating a plan beforehand when we have time.”

The Borders Resilience for Wellbeing Service works in partnership with NHS Borders, Wellbeing Service Team and Scottish Rugby.

For more information on what the service delivers, including school-based support, visit Resilience For Wellbeing Service – Quarriers