Supporting mental health in schools

Angela and her team organising care packs, Christmas 2021.

Resilience through the pandemic

Quarriers Resilience for Wellbeing Service is focused on working with young people across the Scottish Borders. Service Co-ordinator Angela Freeman reflects on two years of service provision like no other.

“We closed our office on Friday 20 March 2020. As a school-based service, we had been working with young people face-to-face in school, but we knew the service would have to change to be delivered digitally and that it had to happen quickly. Luckily, students in the Borders had recently been issued with iPads and within 48 hours of the schools closing, we were able to offer virtual sessions via Microsoft Teams. Since then, our focus has been on empowering young people not only to cope – but also to thrive.”

Helping young people cope with their personal challenges

“The young people we support access the service because they’re finding it difficult to cope with their mental health and wellbeing. COVID has added extra pressures. Young people have missed chances to socialise and lost big milestones like end of term parties or school trips.

For some young people, the return to school following months at home has added more anxiety around socialisation. Some children have missed the respite and routine that being at school could provide. Understanding the challenges young people face, our Resilience Practitioners support them with practical, personal mental health support.”

Working in all secondary schools across the Scottish Borders.

Helping young people cope with difficult events

“Sadly, during this last year, we have had to offer our support and guidance to four school communities following the sudden and unexpected death of a young person.

We supported school staff on how to share the news, connected with young people at drop-in sessions, and in one case we carried out groupwork for friends of a young person who had died suddenly. We supported them to write a letter to the young person and gifted those letters to the young person’s mum. It helped.”

The team delivered personal packs including socks and hot chocolate in 2020 and Christmas stockings in 2021.

Helping young people cope with expectations on achievement

“We became aware that some young people were feeling worried and overwhelmed by issues from the changes being brought about by the pandemic to assessments of their work for qualifications like Highers, so we devised specific support sessions via Microsoft Teams for all young people in S4 – S6. Topics included How to Fuel Your Brain, Study vs Self Care and How to Make the Most of a Night’s Sleep.”

Empowering young people to thrive

Over the two years, we have sent out a total of 965 care packs for young people and families. It’s about sending important messages of care to young people, as well as providing activities and – in the case of the Christmas packs – providing the treats for families that many of us take for granted.”

“In the summer of 2021, we organised a range of fun activities for young people. They were able to meet up with each other, build their confidence and connect with nature, as well as benefiting from getting out and about and moving.”

Alpaca trek in Peebles

Tennis with Rachel

What it means to people we work with

“This has been the best summer. I wish we could do these things all the time.”

Young person

“Thank goodness we have your service.”

Pastoral Teacher

“I was surprised in a good way about how much it helped me.  I wouldn’t be where I am now without them.”

Young person

“Please accept our heartfelt and sincere gratitude. You helped so much to save our boy.”

Parent

“I did it! I can’t believe I spoke to people. This has been the best day.”

Young person

15,661

one-to-one support sessions for young people delivered since March 2020.

Over 8,500 of these were delivered virtually.