Training conference

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

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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
GRAHAM GOULDEN, Director, Cultivating Minds UK (Conference Chair)
*Further speakers to be confirmed*
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.


We are currently working on the programme for this event and will update this area of the webpage soon.
If you are interested in speaking or contributing to the discussions, contact Mark on 0131 344 4611 or

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.

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.

An early bird discount is available for this event. Enjoy 20% off the cost of your tickets if you complete your booking by Friday 26 April 2019.
To take advantage of this offer, just enter the discount code EBD20 on the booking form.

A group booking discount is available for this event. Book two delegates and get a third place at half-price. 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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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