An anxious child herself, Karen Gibb has made it her mission to help children and young people to achieve emotional wellbeing. Through her company Mind Marvels, which she launched in 2018, she offers community classes, one-to-one lessons and sessions in schools based on the NHS 5 Steps to Mental Wellbeing. These are: learn; move; connect; mindful; and be kind.

Now 30, Ms Gibb started her career as a teacher at a secondary school in Lanarkshire that caters for pupils with social, emotional and behavioural needs. She taught there full-time for three years but very quickly realised that typical classroom-style teaching wasn’t really working for the pupils in front of her.

“I was trying to teach them numeracy and literacy, but their emotional well being wasn’t there,” she says. “That’s why I thought about doing a bit more work with their emotions.”

Her own experience has also taught her the value of addressing people’s emotional needs. At the age of 28, she attended a stress control class run by the NHS. This consisted of six weeks of lectures, and she found it to be transformational.

These insights led to Ms Gibb resigning from her teaching post to work on the Mind Marvels project towards the end of 2018. However, she continued – and continues – to work as a supply teacher, which has given her the space to develop the new venture organically, starting with community classes and then expanding into sessions for schools.

“It’s important still to be teaching, so that you are up to date with the curriculum and with new health and wellbeing priorities,” she says.

Teaching in schools also means she sees the increasing pressure teachers face as budgets are cut.

“There is more and more challenging behaviour in the classroom and fewer classroom assistants,” she says.

Ms Gibb now works with three schools through Mind Marvels and has five more in the pipeline, along with two nurseries. She works with people aged three to 19 and has around 10 regular clients for her one-to-one sessions.

Setting the business up was not financially intensive, as she does most of her marketing on social media. However, she did distribute postcards to schools in South Lanarkshire and to those under the jurisdiction of Glasgow City Council.

She has also invested heavily in training, attending courses such as Relax Kids, Story Massage and Youth Mindfulness Training. The net effect has been to ease her own anxiety while striving to help others with theirs.

“I sometimes get a bit of imposter syndrome, but I really believe in the product,” she says.

A £200 grant from the Strathaven Rotary Club helped Ms Gibb to get the business up and running in, but she has otherwise had no external investment. Business Gateway Lanarkshire, meanwhile, assisted with practicalities such as drawing up a business plan and costings.

“They have been an amazing resource,” she says.

Ms Gibb is now ready to take Mind Marvels to take the business to the next stage, which will involve setting up an online portal. She is currently mapping out what that will contain and will then look to work with a developer to make it a reality. This would enable her to expand beyond the central belt.

Another – or possibly complementary – route to that goal would be to employ staff. If the business keeps growing the way it is at the moment, she will have to do that anyway. She is also considering the possibility of expanding through a franchise or licence.

“There is so much more to do,” she says. “I want to get into more schools and nurseries.”