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 performance audit on children and young people’s mental health (published September 2018)
BERNADETTE CAIRNS, Head of Additional Support Services, Highland Council
FIONA WATSON, PT GIRFEC, North Ayrshire Council
LINDA STEWART, School Mental Health Practitioner, Garioch School Nursing Team
PAM STEEL, Teacher, Wallace High School & SAMH Education Development Officer
MYRA HESSETT, CAMHS Project Officer, North Ayrshire Council
KATE HUNTER, Team Leader – Family Health Team, NHS Grampian
ANNE CONNOR, Head of S6, George Heriot’s School
JANE MESSER, Educational Psychologist, Fife Council
JOANNA LAWSON, Educational Psychologist, Fife Council
JONATHAN WOOD, National Manager – Scotland, Place2be Scotland
COMMISSIONERS from The Youth Commission on Mental Health Services
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 has just published on a national audit into children and young people’s mental health, examining 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

“Sharing CAMHS between a Local Authority and NHS Board: the benefits of an Integrated Children’s Service in Highland”
Bernadette Cairns, Head of Additional Support Services, Highland Council

“Connecting with Mental Health”
Fiona Watson, PT GIRFEC, North Ayrshire Council & Myra Hessett, CAMHS Project Officer, North Ayrshire Council

“Co-ordination and early intervention: The role of a School Mental Health Practitioner”
Linda Stewart, School Mental Health Practitioner, Garioch School Nursing Team & Kate Hunter, Team Leader – Family Health Team, NHS Grampian

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?


  • Dharshi Santhakumaran, Audit Manager, Audit Scotland
  • Bernadette Cairns, Head of Additional Support Services, Highland Council
  • Fiona Watson, PT GIRFEC, North Ayrshire Council
  • Myra Hessett, CAMHS Project Officer, North Ayrshire Council
  • Linda Stewart, School Mental Health Practitioner, Garioch School Nursing Team
  • Kate Hunter, Team Leader – Family Health Team, NHS Grampian

Tea and coffee break, opportunities for networking

Session Two – The vital role schools can play

The SAMH Scottish schools survey on Mental Health

  • Survey results and beyond
  • What did schools say they needed?
  • How do we deliver this?
  • What next?

Billy Watson, Chief Executive, SAMH

Case study: Wallace High School – a whole school approach
Pam Steel, Teacher, Wallace High School & SAMH Education Development Officer

Educational Psychology support for mental health and wellbeing in Fife
Jane Messer & Joanna Lawson, Educational Psychologists, Fife Council

Opportunities for questions and discussion

Open Forum
Led by SAMH and our Chair, David Cameron, this open forum will ask delegates at each roundtable to discuss some of the key questions raised throughout the session, including:

  • What does the Scottish Government need to do in order to ensure school-based counselling is a success?
  • In the SAMH survey, teachers told us they wanted more training in mental health. How should this training be delivered, and what should it look like?
  • What do you need to support your own mental health?

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, activities and 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

Place2Be’s experience of delivering a mental health service in schools
Jonathan Wood, National Manager – Scotland, Place2be Scotland

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 from The Youth Commission on Mental Health Services, 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.

Bernadette Cairns, Head of Additional Support Services, Highland Council
After training as a secondary school teacher, Bernadette worked in this capacity for a few years, before completing her MSc in educational psychology in 1991. She initially was employed as an educational psychologist by Strathclyde Education Service, before moving to the Highland Council Psychological Service the following year.

In 2011 she became Senior Manager – Additional Support Needs and is now Head of Additional Support Services within the Care and Learning Service of Highland Council. This directorate incorporates Health, Education and Social Care professionals, working within integrated teams in a single children’s service.

In her current role Bernadette has responsibility for the strategic leadership and management of additional support services, including support staff in schools, specialist education services, Allied Health Professionals, Primary Mental Health Workers, Educational Psychologists and specialist preschool services.

Fiona Watson, PT GIRFEC, North Ayrshire Council
“I began my teaching career in Arran High School, teaching both English and History. After two years teaching in Arran, marriage necessitated a move to the mainland, and I took up a post at Garnock Academy as an English teacher. I had always had a real interest in the pastoral care of pupils and, in 2005 was promoted to PT Pastoral Support. This is a job which has brought many challenges and changes over the years, but has also been the most rewarding of my career to date. However, earlier last year, the opportunity to undertake a secondment as PT GIRFEC arose. This has presented me with new insights into working across the Authority as a whole, in both the Primary and Secondary sectors, on the importance of promoting positive mental and emotional health and well-being, and how we best support staff and pupils to achieve this”.

Linda Stewart, School Mental Health Practitioner, Garioch School Nursing Team
Linda has many years experience working within CAMHS, YPD at NHS Grampian. Linda joined the School Nursing Team in Garioch, Aberdeenshire in April 2015 to provide specialist mental health support to Secondary school pupils attending the three Academies in the area.

Pam Steel, Teacher, Wallace High School & SAMH Education Development Officer
@wallacehighsch @SAMHtweets

Myra Hessett, CAMHS Project Officer, North Ayrshire Council
“I taught History in an East Ayrshire secondary school before moving into pastoral care and becoming a PT Guidance. As a Depute Head Teacher for 10 years I managed a pastoral care team ensuring the social/emotional, curricular and vocational needs of pupils were being met. During that time I studied for qualifications in Counselling Skills and CBT and this led me to take up a post as CAMHS Project Officer with North Ayrshire Council. Funded through the Attainment Challenge the objective of the post was to ensure staff have a better understanding of mental health and the confidence to open a dialogue with young people about emotional issues. New resources have been introduced into schools and training provided. I also have the privilege of being a facilitator on Columba 1400’s Head Teachers’ Leadership Academies”.

Kate Hunter, Team Leader – Health Visiting & School Nursing Team, NHS Grampian
Kate has over 30 years experience in Health Visiting, she is also a Clinical Practice Teacher (Health Visiting) and has supported and mentored many trainee health visitors within NHS Grampian. Kate has been Team Leader in Garioch since January 2014 and is chair of a local multi agency Girfec Group. Kate is a member of the Children & Young People Community Nursing Implementation Group in NHS Grampian – this group includes representation from school nurse leads & children and young people service managers.

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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.

Jane Messer & Joanna Lawson, Educational Psychologists, Fife Council
Jane Messer has worked as an Educational Psychologist with Fife Council for 16 years as main grade and area manager. Prior to this, Jane worked as a teacher and residential care worker. Over this time working as an EP, Jane has been involved in a range of work linked to Mental health and Wellbeing for both pupils and staff in Fife. She also has an interest in Nurture and Relationships, Sleep and Additional Support Needs.

Joanna Lawson has worked in Fife as an Educational Psychologist for 10 years. She has a particular interest in supporting children and young people’s emotional wellbeing and the link between this and attainment, both present and future. Current interests relate to the development of Nurturing Approaches, Building Resilience and the links between these and Adverse Childhood Experiences.

Jonathan Wood, National Manager – Scotland, Place2be Scotland
Jonathan Wood has worked in the voluntary sector for 35 years, with 20 of those as a psychotherapist/art therapist. He has also managed counselling-based projects for those 20 years. Jonathan joined Place2Be in 2006 as Edinburgh Cluster Manager, becoming National Manager for Scotland in 2008. More recently he took up the role of Service Manager for Wales. He has an MSC in Psychological Counselling, a PG Diploma in Art Therapy, a Diploma in Transpersonal Psychology and an MBA.

Registered as an art therapist with the Health Professions Council, Jonathan has worked in the fields of homelessness, drug addiction, learning disability, mental health and children and families.

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

XenZone is an innovator in digital mental health. Established over 16 years ago, we have delivered over 110,000 hours of online counselling and support to children, young people (CYP) and adults. Our CYP service, Kooth, is commissioned in over 1 in 3 CCG areas across England and Wales. Our services complement existing face-to-face provision, with accessible support till 10pm 7 days a week, and clear pathways for referral into other services. Evaluation has proven our digital services can reduce demand for specialist services, have high user acceptance and demonstrable outcomes.

Kooth is an easy to deploy, highly scalable early intervention services wholly operated by our own experienced, trained staff. Staff are constantly supervised and work within a strong culture of clinical governance and safeguarding. Our ethos for service provision is person-centric. Practitioners have trained in a variety of evidence-based techniques including CBT, DBT and a range of psychotherapy approaches. They are skilled to deploy the intervention most appropriate to an individual’s needs.

Penumbra is one of Scotland’s largest mental health charities. We envisage a society where people with mental health problems expect recovery and are accepted, supported and have the resources to fulfil their potential. We provide a wide range of services which offer hope and practical steps towards recovery, and we strive to increase public knowledge about mental health and to influence national and local government policy.

To promote positive mental health in children and young people we are developing a range of educational resources, including a suite of workshop plans covering areas of wellbeing such as “Coping with Self Harm”, “Healthy Relationships”, “Expressing Emotions”, and “Fitness for Fun”. The “My Body My Way” workshop plan and facilitator guide are now freely available on The workshop explains what body image is, explores what influences our body image and promotes positive body image and wellbeing. Suitable for primary school children age 9-11, it fits the Curriculum for Excellence and GIRFEC approach to wellbeing. Alongside this we are also developing a mental health tool for young people called Y.ROC, based on our internationally recognised I.ROC tool. Come have a chat with us to find out more!

As the UK’s largest children’s charity, Barnardo’s brings over 150 years’ experience of delivering services to the most vulnerable in society. Promoting and improving children and young people’s mental health and wellbeing has always been at the heart of our support. In Scotland our services focus on providing early intervention and prevention work within schools. We do this through our PATHS® Social and Emotional Learning programme as well as our Family Support Workers attached directly to schools who provide holistic, wraparound support for children, young people and their families mental health and wellbeing. Our New Horizons project in East Ayrshire also works directly with local schools and GPs surgeries to address issues around trauma, bereavement and loss for young people.

Place2Be is a children’s mental health charity providing universal and targeted school-based mental health support to over 280 schools throughout Britain. Place2Be has had a presence in Scotland for the last 15 years and is currently working in schools across Glasgow, Edinburgh, North Ayrshire, South Lanarkshire and Renfrewshire reaching a population of over 9500 children and young people. Our in-depth training programmes improve the emotional wellbeing of pupils, families, teachers and school staff and includes our SCEL Endorsed Mental Health Champions training.

Scottish Schools Health and Wellbeing Improvement Research Network (SHINE)
Researchers from the Universities of Glasgow and St Andrews are establishing a new Scottish Schools Health and Wellbeing Improvement Research Network (SHINE) and inviting schools to take part in its development. SHINE is part-funded by the MRC Mental Health Data Pathfinder (

Registration for this event has now closed.


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Public sector rate
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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


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