Training conference

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

Boys conference resized image
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


LAURA SHARPE, Education and Young People’s Manager, See Me Scotland
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 (Conference Chair)
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.


Registration and morning refreshments

Session One – Removing the stigma, enhancing emotional literacy

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

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

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

Opportunities for questions and discussion

Tea and coffee break, opportunities for networking

Session Two – Key pressures, effective responses

Understanding suicide risk factors and behaviours in young men
Toni Giugliano, Policy Manager, Mental Health Foundation

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

Opportunities for questions and discussion

Boys still don’t cry

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

Robert Burns, Supervisor and Trainer, Childline

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)

Opportunities for questions and discussion

Lunch and opportunities for networking

Chair’s Welcome Back

Session Three – Whole community approaches to positive mental health

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

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

Engaging boys

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

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

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

Chair’s Round-up and Closing Remarks

Laura Sharpe, Education and Young People’s Manager, See Me
Laura Sharpe, Education and Young People’s Manager for See Me. The national organisation for anti-stigma in Scotland. During her time at See Me Laura has led on the strategic coproduction and development of the Education and Young People programme bringing together young volunteers, actively involving and engaging them to lead the change they hope to see in the world.

Laura has spent 15 years leading and developing on children and young people programmes across the third sector, helping to tackle a number of equality issues and developing programmes to improve young people’s lives.

Contact Details:

Katie Ferguson, Director, respectme
Katie Ferguson is service director of respectme, Scotland’s anti-bullying service. The service aims to help make Scotland a fairer, safer and more inclusive place to grow up.

Over the last ten years, Katie has worked with organisations promoting positive outcomes for children and young people. She is passionate about creating respectful environments for the young people of Scotland that address and prevent bullying behaviours and promote positive mental health and wellbeing. Most recently Katie worked with organisations such as National Deaf Children’s Society and the National Union of Students.

Alistair Brown, National Director, Scottish Association of Social Work
Alistair is the new National Director of the Scottish Association of Social Work. He is a judicial member of the MH Tribunal for Scotland and has experience in both statutory and 3rd Sector in NZ & UK. Alistair is a seasoned practitioner with forensic, emergency and CAMHS services. He is a Mental Health Officer (MHO) and chaired the Scottish MHO Forum for a number of years. Alistair has wide postgraduate training including Advanced SW Practice (UoEdinburgh), Cognitive Analytical Therapy (ACATuk) and Child and Adolescent Mental Health (UoOtago NZ).

Toni Giugliano, Policy Manager, Mental Health Foundation
@ToniGiugliano @MHFScot
Toni is the Policy and Public Affairs Manager for the Mental Health Foundation in Scotland. He is responsible for the development of policy and campaigns in Scotland. His work also involves promoting the Foundation’s work among policy-makers, the media and working closely with key partners and stakeholders.

Toni is passionate about improving public mental health awareness. He is also an equalities champion, having campaigned for LGBTI rights and the rights of refugees and EU nationals.

Prior to joining the Foundation, Toni spent 10 years working in campaigns and public relations in Scotland and Brussels. In the third sector he has worked for SAMH, Age Scotland and the European University Association leading on policy and external engagement.

He has also worked for the Scottish and European Parliaments and has significant experience in political campaigns. Toni moved to Scotland from Italy aged seven and is fluent in Italian and French. In his spare time he likes to travel, eat out and write the occasional newspaper column.

Pauline Scott, Managing Director, TIGERS Ltd
Pauline Scott is Managing Director of TIGERS Ltd. TIGERS are a well-established Scottish Training Provider, Employment Broker and recruitment company, specialising in the training and preparation of Young Persons aged 16-24 for entry into primarily the Construction, Childcare, Business Administration and Mechanics industries as well as other sectors.

Since taking a leading role in the company, Pauline has worked to ensure relationships occupy a central role in the values, practice, policies and vision of the business. Her team’s enthusiastic embrace of the science of Adverse Childhood Experiences has led her to believe in the power of this information to transform not only the lives of young people but also the wider business community.

TIGERS are the co-founders of ACE-Aware Nation, which hosted a 2-day Conference in September 2018, attended by 2200 people. ACE-Aware Nation exists to foster the power of relationships to prevent and mitigate the impact of ACEs.

For more information, visit –

Robert Nesbitt, Head of Physical Activity and Sport, SAMH
Robert Nesbitt has over 20 years’ knowledge and experience of the voluntary sector in Scotland. Since joining SAMH in 1996, Robert’s roles have continued to expand, with various senior management positions within delivery and development of services including mental health, homelessness and addictions.

Robert is also a trainer for Adult Support and Protection, ARBD and Mental Health focused on building capacity and understanding as part of workforce development. His most recent role is Head of Physical Activity and Sport within a National Context, managing and developing programmes and projects focussed on the Impact that physical activity and sport can have on our Mental Health and Wellbeing.

Anne O’Donnell, Head Teacher, St Patrick’s R.C. Primary School (Denny)
Anne has been in the teaching profession for almost 40 years after graduating in 1979 from Craiglockhart College of Education in Edinburgh. Anne was a classroom practitioner for 20 years before entering into Management. Anne was appointed Assistant Head in St Patrick’s RC Primary School and spent four years in this post.

In 2003 she was appointed Head Teacher of St Patrick’s – a very proud moment for Anne, as St Patrick’s was the school she attended as a child.

The work she has done with the boys and their male carers has been recognised both locally and nationally and the practice has been shared at several events led by SPTC and Education Scotland.

Jordan Daly, Co-founder, Time for Inclusive Education (TIE)
Jordan Daly is a co-founder of Time for Inclusive Education (TIE), a Scottish charity which has successfully campaigned for LGBT-inclusive education.

TIE believe that LGBT history, role models and equalities should be taught within schools in order to tackle prejudice and bullying, and lobby and deliver services to achieve this. They have reached over 25,000 young people with their LGBT and Allies school services, increasing understanding and awareness.

In 2017, the Scottish Parliament endorsed TIE’s proposals for LGBT themes to be taught in schools by majority, and the Scottish Government began to work with the charity to develop policy recommendations.

In 2018, these were accepted in full and Scotland became the first country in the world to adopt LGBT-inclusive education – which will be implemented in all public schools by 2021. This means that young people will learn about the LGBT community’s contributions to our society, the history of the LGBT equalities movement, and the impact of homophobia, biphobia, and transphobia.

Robert Burns, Supervisor, Childline
Robert Burns is a Childline supervisor with some 20 years’ experience as a volunteer counsellor and supervisor, to add to his experience as a teacher.

How boys talk to Childline is an abiding interest of Robert’s, and he frequently bangs his ‘difference’ drum when training new and experienced volunteer counsellors.

Childline’s online service at is now 10 years old, and this seems like an opportune moment to look at how boys and young men use the email/chat and message board functions that function alongside the helpline.

Graham Goulden
Graham Goulden, Director, Cultivating Minds UK
Graham Goulden, BA, is an experienced and committed violence prevention trainer. For thirty year’s he was a Scottish police officer and Chief Investigator specialising in criminal investigation, drug investigation, training and crime prevention. For the last eight years of his policing career he was a key member of the Scottish Violence Reduction Unit (

In 2010 Graham introduced The Mentors in Violence Prevention Programme (MVP) into high schools across Scotland, successfully handing over the overall lead to Education Scotland in 2017. MVP is a leader in bystander education in the United States ( Graham continues to support MVP development in Scotland as well as being a trainer for the US MVP organisation.

In addition, he has conducted numerous trainings and keynote speeches in Scotland, England, Wales, Sweden, and in the United States. In addition to conducting bystander trainings, Graham has expert knowledge and experience in embedding violence prevention programmes within local government, and has been able to build sustainable models for the longer term.

Graham has delivered prevention trainings in many different settings including high schools, colleges, universities, in work places, in prisons, with military and police and with professional and amateur sports in the UK and United States. Graham has worked with many different individuals and groups using bystander activities to engage audiences in the prevention of violence. Graham has worked with hairdressers, dentists, vets, fire officers, police & prison officers, bar & security staff, the military as well as in local communities.

Graham is a passionate advocate of the MVP Programme and the bystander approach. He is committed to engaging individuals making it clear that we all have a role in the prevention of violence in our communities. Since retiring from the police service he has set up the organisation ‘Cultivating Minds UK’ with the primary aim of starting conversations in many different settings and communities to promote healthy relationships and successful outcomes. He continues to work with the violence reduction unit in prevention work across Scotland and the UK.

Graham holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Criminal Justice Studies and a Certificate in Training from Napier University, Edinburgh. He lives with his family near Edinburgh.

Registration for this event has now closed.


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Third sector rate
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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…

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