Training Conference

Mental Health and Wellbeing in Schools – The role of the school in working toward a healthier Scotland

Mental Health in schools
In January this year the First Minister announced an additional £54m for improving access to mental health services. including access for child and adolescent needs.

With the number of young people seeking help for mental health issues on the rise, schools are at the forefront of providing support but also hold the key to prevention in enabling young people.

How can we prevent crisis point and support a proactive approach to positive mental health and wellbeing in Scottish Schools?

With an emphasis on sharing the lessons learned from existing practice, this one-day training conference will explore:

Insight and improvements

  • Mental health strategy for Scotland and the role of schools
  • Working with young people under pressure
  • Resilience – the key to prevention?

Prevention and Pro-active Policies

  • Adopting best practice in mental health wellbeing
  • Preventative approaches and how to work with families

Knowledge and best practice

  • Understanding the issues affecting young people
  • Pressures on young people and what next?


SUZANNE HARGREAVES, Senior Education Officer for Health and Wellbeing, Education Scotland
DR ROSS WHITEHEAD, HBSC Research Fellow, Child and Adolescent Health Research Unit, University of St Andrews
JONATHAN WOOD, National Manager – Scotland, Place2be Scotland
BILLY WATSON, Chief Executive, SAMH (Conference Chair)
BRIAN DONNELLY, Director, respectme
DR HEATHER CLELAND WOODS, School of Psychology, University of Glasgow
BRANDI LEE LOUGH DENNELL, Assistant Policy Director, LGBT Youth Scotland
SEAN BOOKLESS, Content Editor, Young Scot
KIRSTY MCCAHILL MSYP, Equalities Committee Convener, Scottish Youth Parliament
A range of mental health issues, including anxiety and depression, have been on the rise amongst young people in Scotland. Schools are on the frontline in tackling mental health issues with their students. The good news is that there are more young people coming forward to seek help. The bad news is that help is not always readily available with the 18-week waiting time targets to access Children and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAHMS) not always being met. This gives a difficult wait for the young person and their family. It also adds additional pressure to school staff supporting young people during this time.

The need to work toward preventing mental health crisis has never been more necessary. Young people are reported to be feeling increased impetus to conform and achieve – daily pressures that are often amplified by the ubiquitous digital lifestyles readily available to most young people.

The culture of talking about mental health problems has improved in recent years yet the number of parents who discuss mental health with their children is low. As well as working closely with CAHMS professionals, schools need to work in partnership with parents and carers to have a significant impact. With an emphasis on sharing existing practice, this event will examine how schools can develop a proactive, collaborative approach to support positive mental health and wellbeing amongst young Scots.


Registration and morning refreshments

Chair’s welcome and introduction
Billy Watson, Chief Executive, SAMH

Session One: Setting the scene

Welcome Address
“Society and Mental Health – an overview of the current national and international picture with trends over time”
Dr Ross Whitehead, HBSC Research Fellow, Child and Adolescent Health Research Unit, University of St Andrews

Keynote Address – Mental Health and Wellbeing in Scottish schools

  • Supporting mental health: the role of the school
  • Curriculum for excellence and GIRFEC
  • Exam pressure and stress – how to recognise and help

Suzanne Hargreaves, Senior Education Officer for Health and Wellbeing, Education Scotland

Opportunities for questions and discussion

Tea and coffee break, opportunities for networking

Session Two: Support in the school

Resilience building in Schools

  • What we have learned from the past 10 years in Scotland
  • Why resilience matters
  • The vital work of school-based support

Jonathan Wood, National Manager – Scotland, Place2be Scotland

Supporting LGBT students

  • Best practice and latest training
  • Inequalities in the mental health of LGBT young people
  • What support can you give?

Brandi Lee Lough Dennell, Assistant Policy Director, LGBT Youth Scotland

Bullying and mental health

  • What is the impact?
  • What do Scottish schools do well?
  • What do we need more of?
  • And how can we help restore what is lost when bullying occurs?

Brian Donnelly, Director, respectme

Opportunities for questions and discussion

Buffet lunch, opportunities for networking

Session Three: The future mental health of young people

Chair’s Welcome Back

The impact of social media on young people

  • The implications of a 24 hour digital lifestyle
  • What are the added pressures facing teens in 2016?
  • What future trends should we be aware of?

Dr Heather Cleland Woods, School of Psychology, University of Glasgow

Opportunities for questions and discussion

Speak your Mind

  • Promoting the positive
  • Stopping stigma
  • Engaging young people in mental health discussions

Kirsty McCahill MSYP, Equalities Committee Convener, Scottish Youth Parliament

An introduction to Aye Mind
Sean Bookless, Content Editor, Young Scot

followed by…

Aye Mind Gif-making Workshop
Led by: Charlotte Fountaine, Designer, Snook

Chair’s closing remarks

Suzanne Hargreaves
Suzanne Hargreaves, Senior Education Officer for Health and Wellbeing, Education Scotland
“I currently have the privilege of being the Senior Education Officer for Health and wellbeing (HWB) and Outdoor Learning in Education Scotland. I started my career as physical education teacher in a secondary school, during this time I completed my MEd and then my MSc in Applied Social Research. I moved into Higher Education as a Graduate Assistant at the University of Stirling followed by a Lecturing post at the University of Glasgow.

After time out for family, I returned to the secondary sector as a Senior Teacher and then as a Principal Teacher before moving to a secondment with Learning and Teaching Scotland (LTS). I continued my involvement in Higher Education through various roles including Teacher Fellow at the University of Stirling, Associate Tutor at the University of Edinburgh and External Examiner at the University of Glasgow.

I work with a team of Development Officers and Inspectors to support staff in educational establishments across Scotland on all aspects of Health and wellbeing and Outdoor Learning. I am inspired by the people I work with.”

Dr Ross Whitehead
Dr Ross Whitehead, HBSC Research Fellow, Child and Adolescent Health Research Unit, University of St Andrews
Dr Ross Whitehead is a research fellow in the Child and Adolescent Health Research Unit (CAHRU) at the University of St Andrews, working on the Health Behaviour in School-aged Children (HBSC) study in collaboration with the World Health Organization. This study is an international project focusing on the health and wellbeing of young people across 43 countries in Europe and North America.

Using HBSC data, Dr Whitehead has revealed the powerful impact of educational aspirations on the health of Scottish school children. Those expecting to spend more time in education are more likely to eat healthily, avoid alcohol, tobacco and cannabis, exercise more frequently, stay out of physical fights, brush their teeth twice a day and abstain from sexual intercourse. Critically, he finds that these relationships exist independently of one’s socio-economic position, suggesting that academic aspirations might be beneficial for a wide group of adolescents.

Dr Whitehead has also recently studied the impact of adolescents’ body image on mental wellbeing in Scotland and across Europe. Using Scottish HBSC data between 1994 and 2014, his work reveals a sharp deterioration in the relationship between body dissatisfaction and mental health, especially for 13- and 15-year old girls. His cross-cultural analysis also indicates that the extent to which this relationship is changing is steeper in Scotland than anywhere else in Europe.

Jonathan Wood
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.

Billy Watson
Billy Watson, Chief Executive, SAMH
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 current strategic priorities include early intervention, suicide prevention, children and young people; 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.

Brian Donnelly
Brian Donnelly, Director, respectme
@brianrespectme @_respectme_
Brian has spent the vast majority of his working life working with challenging and excluded children. He has been involved in developing innovative approaches to managing challenging behaviour and anti-bullying for a number of years.
Brian worked in residential child care for 17 years in a range of children’s services. He worked in the public sector until 2003 when he moved to the voluntary sector; here he was instrumental in the design and development of an alternative to secure care residential and fostering service.
Brian took up the post of Director of respectme the Scottish Government funded anti-bullying service in January 2007. respectme builds the confidence and competence of all adults who play a role in the lives of children and young people through training, policy guidance and campaigns.
Brian has a strategic role to influence policy and practice nationally and internationally on anti-bullying. He has co-authored a paper published in the International Journal of Youth Studies called: Bullying and Agency: Definition, Intervention and ethics. This presents a new definition and approach to bullying.
respectme has ensured a consistent and pragmatic approach to anti-bullying has been embedded across Scotland and the service also enjoys a very positive international reputation.
Brian has also conducted research with children and young people across Scotland into their experiences of bullying, including research in 2014 when over 8,000 children and young people took part. Brian has delivered anti-bullying training across the UK and in Europe and has also delivered at conferences in the US.
Brian graduated with an MBA (Distinction) from Glasgow Caledonian University in 2011.

Dr Heather Cleland Woods
Dr Heather Cleland Woods, School of Psychology, University of Glasgow
Dr Heather Cleland Woods is a lecturer at the University of Glasgow’s School of Psychology. She graduated in 2006 with BSc (Hons) Psychology from the University of Glasgow and completed an MSc in Research Methods in Psychological Science. Heather completed her PhD under the supervision of Prof Stephany Biello and Prof Colin Espie in 2011.

Heather’s research interests lie in understanding the development and maintenance of psychophysiological insomnia, in particular, the role of attention and information processing. By using computerized cognitive probe paradigms and eye tracking, she hopes to gain further insight into the mechanisms behind psychophysiological insomnia. Heather also has an interest in the relationship between sleep quality, self-esteem and social media use in both adults and adolescents.

Heather teaches and supervises at both undergraduate and postgraduate levels with a focus on sleep and the link between brain and behaviour. Her recent publications and conference abstracts can be found here –

Brandi Lee Lough Dennell
Brandi Lee Lough Dennell, Assistant Policy Director, LGBT Youth Scotland
Brandi Lee Lough Dennell, Assistant Policy Director, has worked within the Policy and Mainstreaming team at LGBT Youth Scotland since 2010 on policy engagement, training delivery, Charter support, undertaking research on the needs and experiences of LGBT young people, and promoting equalities and young people’s rights. With a Ph.D. in social anthropology, she has led on two recent research studies on education: Life in Scotland for LGBT Young People: Education (2012), and Prejudice Based Bullying in Scottish Schools (LGBT Youth Scotland and respectme, for EHRC; 2015).

Sean Bookless
Sean Bookless, Content Editor, Young Scot
Sean Bookless has been in the role of Content Editor at Young Scot, Scotland’s Youth Information and Citizenship charity, since January 2016. This role is part of Young Scot’s Information, Research and Strategy directorate: striving to keep young people in Scotland informed and engaged. Sean’s work is primarily based around running the Young Scot digital platform and social media networks.

Sean’s team at Young Scot has worked alongside Snook to design the dedicated Aye Mind landing page on This resource features a variety of mental health information content and a gif-making guide.

Charlotte Fountaine
Charlotte Fountaine, Designer, Snook
Charlotte specialises in co-design campaigns online and offline for young people at Snook design agency. She recently lead a digital project for National Galleries of Scotland, empowering young people to develop their own digital ideas, gifs, videos for engaging their peers in the exhibitions. Charlotte’s background is in graphic design, having studied at Glasgow School of Art. She also has experience in organising, running and facilitating design events such as CycleHack and the Glasgow Service Jam.

Charlotte has been leading the online campaign side of Aye Mind, a project on a mission to improve the mental well-being of 13 to 21 year olds by making better use of the internet, social media and mobile technologies. She has developed a series of gifs with young people that allow them to express their mental well-being messages to their friends online. She also facilitated workshops and developed visuals for Whose Round, an alcohol awareness project in collaboration with Young Scot, for NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde aimed at 16 to 25 year olds in Glasgow.

Kirsty McCahill
Kirsty McCahill MSYP, Equalities Committee Convener, Scottish Youth Parliament
Kirsty McCahill has been an MSYP for the constituency of Ayr for 3 years. Being brought up in the area, she joined SYP to make sure that the voices of the young people there were heard as clearly as possible and had a fair chance at representation. Over her 3 years she has been the chair of South Ayrshire Youth Forum, is currently the Convener of the Equalities committee and a trustee on the board of SYP. She has a particular interest in gender equality and has presented motions and had articles published on the issue. She also has a passion for children’s rights and has spoken on national and international platforms on the importance of having them upheld.

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Schools rate
Available to all attendees from schools


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

Tel: +44 (0)131 474 9200


By Rail, Haymarket Station.
Approximately 5 minutes walk.

By Air, Edinburgh Airport.
Approximately 15 minutes away.

By car…

Directions to and from COSLA