The Mental Health and Wellbeing of Scotland’s Boys – Providing support, removing stigma, enhancing emotional literacy

Boys conference resized image 1




Event Outline

Over the last 18 months, our ‘Supporting Boys’ series has explored a range of welfare issues from the particular perspective of boys. Using a mix of speaker presentations and interactive discussion sessions, this one-day training conference will focus on the Mental Health and Wellbeing of Scotland’s Boys – offering those who work with boys and young men the opportunity to share ideas and experiences of how we can best support them to open up about how they are feeling, help them build resilience and manage their own stress and anxiety. It will explore the following key themes:

  • The issues impacting boys and young men and the pressures they face
  • The stigma around mental health and developing the emotional literacy of boys and young men
  • How to support and target high risk groups more effectively
  • The value of positive role models and facilitating positive peer-to-peer mental health discussions
  • Communicating and working with parents and carers
  • The particular pressures facing LGBTI young people

The latest figures on suicide in Scotland show that men are three times more likely than women to take their own life and, for the third consecutive year, suicide in young males aged 15-24 has increased. Our understanding of the likely risk factors and behaviours leading to suicide has increased over recent years, however experts are still uncertain as to why the complex set of social, clinical, cultural and psychological factors that increase this risk are particularly prevalent for men, especially young men.

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.

However boys are often less likely to actively seek that help than girls. Many teachers and other professionals, report that it can be difficult to encourage boys to speak about how they are feeling – those struggling with their mental health will often try to hide it, making the problem worse. Yet our boys and young men face a range of pressures and stresses – be they caused by schoolwork and educational expectations; Adverse Childhood Experiences; negative body image or low self-esteem; bullying and peer pressure; social media and the fear of missing out; or the impact of pornography on their sexual development.

Creating a culture that encourages boys to open up about how they are feeling and developing effective early interventions and preventative approaches (such as an enhanced focus on mental health education and awareness) are critical to ensuring as many boys as possible receive the help and support they need.

Supported by


Laura Sharpe

Education and Young People’s Manager, See Me

Katie Ferguson

Director, respectme

Alistair Brown

National Director, Scottish Association of Social Work

Toni Giugliano

Policy Manager, Mental Health Foundation

Pauline Scott

Managing Director, TIGERS Ltd

Robert Nesbitt

Head of Physical Activity and Sport, SAMH

Anne O’Donnell

Head Teacher, St Patrick’s R.C. Primary School (Denny)

Jordan Daly

Co-founder, Time for Inclusive Education (TIE)

Robert Burns

Supervisor, Childline

Graham Goulden

Director, Cultivating Minds UK


09:00-09:30     Registration and morning refreshments

Session One – Removing the stigma, enhancing emotional literacy

09:30-09:45     Chair’s Welcome and Introduction – ‘The journey so far’

  • A need for continued focus on boys
  • A requirement for an improved narrative around young boys
  • Providing a toolkit for those working with boys

Graham Goulden, Director, Cultivating Minds UK

09:45-10:15     Interactive session: Removing the stigma, creating discussion

  • The challenges for boys in 2019
  • Breaking down barriers
  • Starting the conversation, saving lives

Laura Sharpe, Education and Young People’s Manager, See Me Scotland

10:15-10:40     Preventing bullying and promoting positive relationships

  • Respect for All – the national approach to anti-bullying in Scotland
  • Culture and ethos – preventing bullying
  • Responding effectively to bullying incidents

Katie Ferguson, Director, respectme

10:40-10:55     Opportunities for questions and discussion

10:55-11:15     Tea and coffee break, opportunities for networking

Session Two – Key pressures, effective responses

11:15-11:35     Understanding suicide risk factors and behaviours in young men
Toni Giugliano, Policy Manager, Mental Health Foundation

11:35-11:55     The impact of ACEs on mental health and the support required

  • Educating boys on ACEs and the healing process
  • How can schools and services support each other and the boys

Pauline Scott, Managing Director, TIGERS Ltd – co-founders of ACE-Aware Nation

11:55-12:10     Opportunities for questions and discussion

12:10-12:30     Boys still don’t cry

  • Peer pressure
  • Body image
  • Boys sexual development and the impact of pornography

Robert Burns, Supervisor, Childline

12:30-12:50     Beyond Section 28: the era of LGBT-inclusive education

  • 19 years from the repeal of S28: what’s changed?
  • Addressing the root of homophobia, biphobia and transphobia with education
  • The impact of ‘heteronormativity’ and ‘otherisation’ on the mental health of LGBT youth

Jordan Daly, Co-founder, Time for Inclusive Education (TIE)

12:50-13:00     Opportunities for questions and discussion

13:00-13:45     Lunch and opportunities for networking

13:45-13:50     Chair’s Welcome Back

Session Three – Whole community approaches to positive mental health

13:50-14:10     Social work and mental health intervention with young men in high risk groups

  • Managing transition with young people leaving care
  • LGBTQ considerations
  • Capacity building around suicide promotion with professionals working with boys

Alistair Brown, National Director, Scottish Association of Social Work

14:10-14:30     The impact of sport on young people’s mental health

  • Exploring and presenting the issues behind confidence and self-esteem
  • Creating mental health conversations
  • ‘Going to be’ campaign

Robert Nesbitt, Head of Physical Activity and Sport, SAMH

14:30-14:50     Engaging boys

  • Building relationships
  • Promoting resilience
  • It’s good to talk

Anne O’Donnell, Head Teacher, St Patrick’s R.C. Primary School (Denny)

14:50-15:20     Interactive session: “Sharing your experiences – taking what you have heard into the workplace”

Break into groups to share your experiences on the following:

  • What have you learned today?
  • What would you like to see change?
  • How will you make that happen and how can we help?

Led by Graham Goulden, Director, Cultivating Minds UK

15:20-15:30     Chair’s Round-up and Closing Remarks


Hosted by

COSLA Conference Centre
Verity House

19 Haymarket Yards
EH12 5BH

t: 0131 474 9200