Buckinghamshire Mind has been awarded a grant of £4,952 from the Rothschild Foundation for the charity’s Peer Support in Schools Service. The aim of this service is to empower schools, young people, parents and teachers to tackle the stigma associated with mental health and encourage individuals to seek support as and when they need it.
The Peer Support in Schools Service is available to both primary and secondary schools across Buckinghamshire. Our team trains students from the top year of the school; sixth formers and primary school children in Year 5/6, in mental health awareness helping them become Peer Mentors to the students in younger years throughout the school. This training includes general mental health awareness and key aspects of their role, such as their responsibilities, communication, listening skills and safeguarding.
“Because peer mentors are students I feel as though I can connect with my mentor – I guess it means we are able to understand each other very well and I am very comfortable discussing my thoughts and feelings with him.”
– Student at Aylesbury Grammar Secondary School, which benefits from the Peer Support in Schools Service.
“The training has helped me understand thoughts and feelings.”
– Student at Haydon Abbey Primary School, one of over 200 active Peer Mentors.
Buckinghamshire Mind implements a whole school approach; working with pupils, parents and staff to set-up and run the Peer Support Service and consider their own and others’ mental wellbeing. For example, Buckinghamshire Mind by facilitates parent coffee mornings, helps prepare assemblies, signposts and reminds schools of upcoming events such as World Mental Health Day and Time to Talk Day.
The service is already in place in 23 schools throughout the county from Winslow to Iver. Different schools use different names for the Peer Mentors, such as ‘buddies’, ‘believers’, ‘ambassadors’ or ‘peer listeners’. Each school chooses how they work, for example some schools provide a drop-in room while others use a referral system. This approach gives the school and the young people agency and control over how they would like to run the service, with the view to sustainability.
“A fantastic foundation and introduction to the student ambassador role.”
– Student Development Officer, Chesham Grammar School, commenting on Peer Mentor training
“We are hugely grateful to Rothschild Foundation for awarding Buckinghamshire Mind this grant. The funding allows us to support and educate children and young people, as well as the adults working with them, about the importance of mental wellbeing by starting the conversation and in turn reducing stigma and discrimination.”
– Zoe Sole, Peer Support in Schools Lead, Buckinghamshire Mind
To find out more information about this service, please contact Zoe Sole, Peer Support in Schools Lead, on 07508021911, email [email protected], or visit www.bucksmind.org.uk/services/peer-support-in-schools