Secondary school pupils will be taught to recognise signs of mental health issues in their friends and family, through a charity’s new scheme.

St Andrew’s First Aid has created the Ready for Life programme to empower young people, aged 14 and over, and usher in a generation of “mental health first aiders”.

The managing director of St Andrew’s First Aid, Gayle Adnyana, said: “Young people have suffered more than most this past year during the pandemic.

“They have been isolated from friends and activities, felt pressures from social media and endured gaps in their education throughout lockdown.

“This qualification will give each pupil a valuable understanding of mental health, how to identify potential problems and, most importantly, signpost how best to help themselves and others.”

The scheme aims to equip young people with the ability to spot signs of mental health issues in the people around them, enabling them to reach out and provide support.

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It will be piloted in five local authority areas including South Lanarkshire, North Lanarkshire, Dundee, Glasgow, and East Renfrewshire – and it’s hoped it’ll then be rolled out across the country if it’s a success.

Cardinal Newman High School in Bellshill is the first school to be involved, with students due to complete their training before the summer break.

The depute head of Cardinal Newman High School, Helen McGhee, said: “Promoting good mental health in all of our young people is a key aspect of what we do as a school.

“We work closely with young people, their parents and our partners to identify and address any areas of concern.

“We are delighted that we will be working with St Andrew’s First Aid who will bring their expertise and experience to our health and wellbeing programme, including promoting good mental health.”

The Ready for Life programme has been launched in line with Mental Health Awareness Week, which begins today, May 10.

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It will take place over 12 hours across multiple days to fit in with school timetables and can be adapted to pupil’s individual school schedules.

The course will cover some of the most common psychological issues affecting young people, including anxiety and depression.

It teaches pupils what to do if they experience mental health problems and how to manage or boost their own mental health and that of others.

Through the scheme they earn two certifications: one in Emergency First Aid at Work and the other in First Aid for Mental Health Awareness, with both valid for three years.

Each pupil will receive a first aid manual, training pack, first aid at work workbook, and a mental health manual.

Many elements of the course have been specifically selected to meet the Curriculum for Excellence guidelines, according to St Andrew’s First Aid.