Training conference

The 2018 Mental Health and Wellbeing in Scotland’s Schools conference: Sharing ideas, experiences and good practice

Mental Health in schools
As more young people come forward with mental health problems, the pressures on support services – and particularly on schools – are significantly increasing. Effective early interventions and preventative approaches (such as an enhanced focus on mental health education and awareness) are critical to ensuring as many young people as possible receive the help and support they need.

There are examples of excellent mental health support being provided in schools across Scotland – from helping pupils to build resilience and manage their own stress and anxiety; to reducing stigma and encouraging pupil-led peer support.

Collectively, there may already be a range of effective practices that schools and wider integrated children’s services can adapt to the needs and demands of the young people they work with, but if we don’t share what’s working well with others, how will we know?

With keynote interactive sessions led by Audit Scotland and SAMH, this year’s annual conference will encourage participants to share their ideas and experiences of providing mental health and wellbeing support to young people – What works, what could be improved upon and what are the impediments to getting it right?


BILLY WATSON, Chief Executive, SAMH
DHARSHI SANTHAKUMARAN, Audit Manager, Audit Scotland; Lead for the forthcoming performance audit on children and young people’s mental health
ANNE CONNOR, Head of S6, George Heriot's School
DAVID CAMERON, Educational Consultant (Conference Chair)
The number of children seeking help for mental health issues has been rising over the last number of years. This is a welcome trend. It is a sign that young people understand more about their own mental health and, as the stigma around mental health issues reduces, are more confident about coming forward to seek the help and support they need.

This increase however also places greater pressures on support services and, in many areas across the country, CAMHS providers are struggling to meet the 18-week waiting time target. This can represent a difficult wait and a great deal of uncertainty for the young person involved and their family. It also adds additional pressures to school staff supporting young people during this time.

As highlighted within last year’s Mental Health Strategy, there is an increased recognition that early intervention and prevention will form a key part of any approach to support positive mental health and wellbeing amongst young Scots. This is where schools can play a critical role – daily contact with their students provides opportunities for teachers, pupil support staff and school nurses to observe changes in a child’s mental health and wellbeing and spot the signs that a young person requires support.

However in a recent SAMH survey of 3000 school staff in Scotland, 66% felt they had not received sufficient training in mental health to allow them to fully carry out their role in providing young people with effective support and guidance and only a third of respondents said their school had an effective way of responding to pupils experiencing mental health problems (‘Going to be…well trained’ report – SAMH, Jan 2018).

In response to the survey’s findings, SAMH has called on the Scottish Government to create a programme to train all school staff in mental health, ensuring everyone feels confident and able to respond appropriately to a pupil seeking help.

As the emphasis shifts toward early intervention and prevention, there is an increasing need to share ideas and experiences; identify effective models of service delivery and highlight existing examples of good practice – within schools and between schools and wider integrated children’s services.

To this end, the Scottish Government has launched a Youth Commission on Mental Health Services earlier this year. The Commission, with members aged 14-22, will work with Government to help shape the future of mental health support services for young people. In addition, Audit Scotland is currently working on a national audit into children and young people’s mental health. To be published just before the conference, the audit will examine how effectively children and young people’s mental health services, across all four tiers of CAMHS, are being delivered and funded.


Registration and morning refreshments

Chair’s Welcome Address
David Cameron, Educational Consultant

Session One - Children and Young People’s Mental Health in Scotland

Children and Young People’s Mental Health in Scotland – the key audit findings, recommendations and good practice

  • Scope of the audit
  • Findings and recommendations
  • Early intervention and prevention – the role of schools

Dharshi Santhakumaran, Audit Manager, Audit Scotland

Opportunities for questions and discussion

Good practice case studies from across Scotland
To be announced in late August

Panel and audience discussion – “Sharing your experiences”
Led by Audit Scotland, this panel and audience discussion will provide an opportunity for panellists and delegates to share their experiences of providing mental health and wellbeing support services to young people – what works, what doesn’t and what are the barriers to improvement?

Tea and coffee break, opportunities for networking

Session Two – The vital role schools can play

The SAMH Scottish schools survey on Mental Health
Billy Watson, Chief Executive, SAMH

Good practice case studies from across Scotland
To be announced in late August

Opportunities for questions and discussion

Open Forum
Led by SAMH and David Cameron, this open forum will ask delegates at each roundtable to discuss some of the key questions raised throughout the morning sessions

Lunch and opportunities for networking

Chair’s Welcome Back

Session Three – Developing support services with young people, for young people

Love Your Mind

“Creating a culture of Wellbeing in Schools – a strategy”

Interactive session showcasing George Heriot’s ‘Love Your Mind’ campaign – sharing the approaches, lesson plans, activities and teaching materials that George Heriot’s have used to provide their students with a better understanding of emotional wellbeing.

Anne Connor, Head of S6, George Heriot's School & students from George Heriot’s

Good practice case study
To be announced in late August

Developing support services with young people, for young people – The Youth Commission on Mental Health Services
This interactive session, led by a number of the Commissioners, will explore what young people have to say about child and adolescent mental health services and how they can be improved.

Chair’s Round-up and Closing Remarks

Billy Watson. Chief Executive, SAMH
@SAMHtweets @BillyWatsoSAMH
Billy Watson joined SAMH (Scottish Association for Mental Health), Scotland’s largest mental health charity, as Chief Executive in November 2008. He has led SAMH through two ambitious strategies which has seen the organisation work to reposition mental health as one of the leading causes in Scotland; delivering award winning campaigns, national behaviour change programmes and community support services all across Scotland which continue to deliver high quality outcomes for the individuals who need it most. SAMH’s future areas of focus include care, workplace, wellbeing and therapeutic; all underpinned by a determination to end mental health stigma and discrimination.

Prior to SAMH, Billy was with RNIB for 10 years, latterly as UK Group Director. Pre third sector was spent in NHS management for 12 years, variously in positions from General Management Trainee to Hospital Administrator and Business Manager.

Dharshi Santhakumaran, Audit Manager, Audit Scotland; Lead for the forthcoming performance audit on children and young people’s mental health
Dharshi Santhakumaran is an audit manager in the Performance Audit and Best Value team at Audit Scotland. Dharshi is leading on the current performance audit on children and young people’s mental health, to be published in the Autumn. Dharshi joined Audit Scotland in 2016. Prior to this she spent ten years working for the Scottish Government as a social researcher and policy officer, across a range of policy areas.

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Anne Connor, Head of S6, George Heriot's School
@George_Heriots @CitizenshipGHS
Anne graduated from Dundee University and then Moray House, before completing Certificates in Guidance and Leadership. She is currently Head of S6 at George Heriot’s School. In recent years she has focused her CPD on wellbeing training with Elaine Bradley of SoundMind and with the Mindfulness in Schools Project.

For the last three years Anne has been developing a whole-school wellbeing strategy with colleagues in the Junior and Senior Schools. The aim is to promote a better understanding of the fact that emotional wellbeing, like physical wellbeing, can be cultivated. The 'Love Your Mind' campaign is multi-faceted. A group of S6 students, called the 'Head Gardeners', help to develop an understanding of the 'Love Your Mind' brand within the school community and grow awareness of what practical activities can strengthen emotional wellbeing. 'Love Your Mind' materials have also been incorporated into Citizenship lessons, registration activities and year assemblies across all year groups. There have also been a series of week long events focussing on particular themes such as sleep, self-compassion and the importance of gratitude. Pupil and parental workshops on mindfulness strategies have also proved popular.

David Cameron, Educational Consultant (Conference Chair)
Since he last chaired a conference for us, David Cameron has continued to establish himself as a leading voice in education and training. Building on his extensive experience as a teacher, a senior manager in schools and in local authorities, most recently as Director of Children’s Services for Stirling Council, he has been much in demand across the UK and internationally as a presenter and chair.

David has worked with Skills Development Scotland as Head of Career Management Skills, was closely involved in developing Scotland’s Creative Learning Plan, was a driving force in the Emporium for Dangerous Ideas, and is currently involved in a wide range of projects. He does like to be busy!

He can be contacted at

The early bird discount for this event ended on Friday 01 June 2018.

A group booking discount is available for this event. Book two delegates and get a third place at half-price. Offer valid until Friday 02 November 2018. To take advantage of this offer, just enter the discount code GROUP3 on the booking form.


Private sector rate
(Commercial organisations – Ltd, plc, LLP etc)

Public sector rate
(Central government departments and agencies, local authorities, NHS, police, universities and colleges etc.)

Third sector rate
(Charities, voluntary and community groups, tenant and patient groups, professional bodies, trade unions etc)

SPECIAL RATES (note: other promotional offers, including early bird discounts, are not valid with special rates)

Schools rate
Available to all attendees from schools

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Book early to guarantee your place
Please note: To emphasise engagement and interaction between participants the event will use a ’roundtable’, rather than ‘theatre-style’, seating layout. As a result, the room capacity is strictly limited to 140 attendees and to ensure fairness, we will offer these places on a first-come-first-served basis. In previous years, this annual conference has become fully booked well in advance. It is advised you register to attend as early as possible to guarantee your place(s).

COSLA Conference Centre,
Verity House,
19 Haymarket Yards,
EH12 5BH

Tel: +44 (0)131 474 9200

COSLA Conference Centre


By Rail, Haymarket Station.
Approximately 5 minutes walk.

By Air, Edinburgh Airport.
Approximately 15 minutes away.

By car…

Directions to and from COSLA

Our 2016 & 2017 conferences

This is the third year of our annual 'Mental Health and Wellbeing in Scotland's Schools' conference. Both the 2016 and 2017 events sold-out with weeks to spare, attracting a total of 290 delegates from across the education, health, care, social work and third sectors - with just under two-thirds of attendees being representatives from schools across Scotland.
2016 mental health conference image
The 2017 Mental Health and Wellbeing in Scotland’s Schools conference: Getting mental health right for every child (Friday 28 April 2017)

Mental Health and Wellbeing in Schools – The role of the school in working toward a healthier Scotland (Thursday 02 June 2016)

The audience

Our 2016 & 2017 events attracted attendees from a variety of backgrounds and roles, including:

  • Assistant Director (Children & Families)
  • CAMHS Development Officer
  • Counsellor in School Health
  • CYP Programme Officer
  • Depute Headteacher
  • Education Officer
  • Educational Psychologist
  • Head of Guidance
  • Head of Curriculum, Learning & Teaching
  • Headteacher
  • Health Improvement Officer (Schools)
  • Health Promotion Officer
  • Health Visitor
  • Lead Counsellor, Children & Young People
  • Lead School Nurse
  • Looked After Children Nurse
  • Primary Care Mental Health Nurse
  • Principal Clinical Psychologist
  • Principal Teacher, Pupil Support
  • Quality Improvement Officer
  • School & Learning Support Officer
  • School Mental Health Practitioner
  • School Nursing Development Manager
  • Senior Education Officer for Health and Wellbeing
  • Senior Educational Psychologist
  • Senior Lead Officer (Children & Young People's Services)
  • Service Manager, Children & Families
  • Youth Project Manager


The events also featured a range of expert speakers, some of whom are listed below –

  • Suzanne Hargreaves, Senior Education Officer for Health and Wellbeing, Education Scotland
  • Dr Julia Egan, Professional Adviser for Public Health, Early Years and Childrens Services, Directorate for Chief Nursing Officer, Scottish Government
  • Pattie Santelices, Principal Officer (Mental Health & Wellbeing), City of Edinburgh Council
  • Barry Syme, Chair of The Association of Scottish Principal Educational Psychologists and Principal Educational Psychologist (Glasgow South) at Glasgow City Council
  • Billy Watson, Chief Executive, SAMH
  • Brian Donnelly, Director, respectme
  • Laura Sharpe, Education and Young People’s Manager, See Me
  • Jonathan Wood, National Manager, Place2be Scotland
  • Dr. Jim White, Consultant Clinical Psychologist, Stress Control
  • Kenny Graham, Head of Education, Falkland House School
  • Karen Richmond, Depute Head, South Morningside Primary School
  • Kirsty McCahill MSYP, Equalities Committee Convener, Scottish Youth Parliament

What delegates said…

The delegate feedback received for our Mental Health and Wellbeing in Schools conferences has been overwhelmingly positive. Indeed, our 2016 conference received the joint-highest delegate-rated performance score (95/100) for any event run by Policy Hub to date.

Delegates have awarded the conferences a combined overall performance score of 93/100
performance score - 93

Past delegate comments included –

Excellent conference – very informative and lots of good resources and learning aids available. Thank you.

Project Manager, NHS Tayside

Enjoyed the informal atmosphere of the conference. Excellent speakers. Venue (COSLA Conference Centre) excellent for delegates travelling from further North.

Depute Rector, Aberdeenshire Council

A very well organised event with excellent speakers – clear, concise, humerous, well informed and realistic!

Principal Teacher Pastoral Support, Falkirk Council

Brilliant day. Interesting line-up of presentations relevant to my organisation and topics which aligned with my own research. Lots of food for thought!

Director, Edinburgh-based Social Enterprise

Excellent buzz in the room, excellent question and answer sessions following excellent presentations. Also excellent chairing by Billy Watson.

Depute Head Teacher, Moray Council

This event was extremely insightful and helpful to my practice

Principal Teacher Pupil Support, South Lanarkshire Council