Bloom – Making strides to reach young people near and far!
Scotland’s land mass is classified as 98% rural with circa 1 million people living there. At Change Mental Health, we emphasise the need to support people with their mental health no matter where they live in Scotland.
Bloom provides school staff with the opportunity to develop their skills, and confidence, in having open conversations about mental health. We first delivered Bloom in the Highland area virtually during lockdown and have since returned to face-to-face in school delivery.
Bloom is a UK-wide preventative education programme, funded by our partners Mental Health UK, which supports young people’s mental health resilience. It helps young people aged 14-18 to develop the tools and knowledge to manage their own mental health through life’s transitions, both now and in the future. We strive to ensure that every young person in Scotland, no matter where they live, can learn more about resilience and develop crucial life skills that will assist them to maintain positive mental health. Evidence shows that providing good, early preventative support to young people in the right place at the right time can help to avoid a decline in mental health and equip them for the challenges of everyday life.
The often referred to natural beauty of the Highlands, contrasts with stark statistics on mental health and the subsequent impact on the community.
Dr Tim Allison, NHS Highland’s Director of Public Health, reported that the area has a consistently higher rate of death by suicide than the Scottish average and wants a greater focus on cutting the figure and improving people’s mental health.
“There are a number of fantastic initiatives that focus on prevention and early intervention as well as providing practical support for individuals and their families. This work is essential in tackling this issue and support for this work must be a priority.”
– Dr Tim Allison, NHS Highland’s Director of Public Health
Delivering to young people in remote communities
An essential component of Bloom is training staff in mental health awareness, which is a valuable offering to the schools based in remote areas. The team have recently delivered Bloom in Thurso High School, Caithness, which is almost as far north as you can get on the mainland of Scotland. Its geographical location, 120 miles away from Inverness, where most services are available, means its population have great difficulty in accessing services and staff, such as teachers, have difficulty in accessing training opportunities.
Deputy Head Teacher of Thurso High School, Anne Nicoll, explained that funding is limited for additional staff training, and it was increasingly difficult to access training during the pandemic. While Anne is aware of online training available, she has had to complete countless hours of personal additional research to provide further resources for her staff. Bloom became available at the “right place, right time!”. Bloom provides training to designated teachers by developing their knowledge, progressing their skills in delivering mental health lessons and providing the resources to do so.
To decide if Bloom was a correct fit for her staff and students at Thurso, Anne had the opportunity to meet our local Training Associate, Donna, prior to delivery. Based in the Highlands area, Anne was also aware of Donna’s skills and professional reputation. After reviewing the Bloom process and, the quality of resources, Anne felt that this was a high-quality programme capable of supporting both staff and student needs at Thurso. The chance to achieve Bloom’s outcomes for personal and professional growth was “perfect timing” as Anne had undertaken a review of the Personal and Social Education (PSE) curriculum, and mental health was identified as a topic to be developed and delivered. Bloom’s quality standards were perfectly matched as they cover staff training, delivery, collaborative working and safeguarding.
10 staff from Thurso completed their training and Donna co-facilitated the delivery of the programme with two cohorts. One of Blooms functions is to continue in schools for many years to come and this is made possible by the trained teachers. We are delighted that those trained at Thurso will continue to deliver Bloom next year, and many more years to come.
What young people had to say about the programme
“We were given toolkits that included lots of solutions that gave me the options to decide which one fits best. I also appreciated the templates made that allowed us to create our own step by step walkthroughs on how we would solve our own problems.”
Young person, (15)
“Having someone else deliver the lessons was really good and made it feel different.”
Young person, (17)
“Stress toolkit is 100% spot on with helping.”
Young person, (17)
What staff had to say about the programme
“For pupils that did the lessons, there is a realisation that they have the power to set their own path. We wanted our students to have the tools and skills to support their own self-care. We were hopeful of what the outcomes would be from Bloom but there was a lot more positive evidence provided in their feedback. This programme allows our pupils to look after their own self-care. The students identified problems that were arising for them, they had an issue that they could do something about.”
A Nicoll, Deputy Head Teacher, Thurso High School
“Pupils engaged well with this 8-week course. It addressed a lot of the areas that our surveyed pupils requested to have included in their PSE.”
P McKeesick, Principal Teacher Pupil Support, Thurso High School
“Good programme on exam planning, study skills and stress busting.”
G. Blyth, Principal Teacher Pupil Support, Thurso High School
Anne’s advice for other educators
“Early intervention is everything. Building that self-care and resilience and being able to use a programme like Bloom is one of the ways in which we can try to tackle mental health support in an education setting, without having that clinical expertise support.”
Anne Nicoll, Deputy Head Teacher, Thurso High School
Having supportive learning on the Mental Health UK website and Clic platform is a welcome and valuable addition to refer our parents and carers to also.
How can you get involved with Bloom?
Sign up to Bloom on Clic, a group for teaching staff, helping you access support online for yourself and the young people you support.
Express your interest in co-delivery and contact our Bloom team today!