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Posting their blues away

A project that encourages primary children to post their worries to counsellors through a school letter-box is set for a major expansion.

Bullying and friendships are often their number one concerns.

The Place 2 Be programme was widely trialled south of the border and supports the mental health and well-being of primary pupils. Now it has taken off at two Edinburgh schools.

Children are offered emotional and therapeutic support through trained counsellors. The programme provides a professional mental health service and offers children help to deal with issues such as abuse and bereavement.

A national charity of the same name sets up and trains co-ordinators and counsellors who work in close contact with the school and its staff.

The Place 2 Talk postbox is part of the wider initiative. Children who have a problem can fill in a form and put it in the box. Each child who has posted a form is then given an appointment to talk about their worries.

The programme has been running for more than two years at Murrayburn and Balgreen primaries and teachers say it has been highly successful. It may now be used more widely across the country. Plans are already under way to involve eight more primary schools in Edinburgh after the city secured pound;200,000 in funding - pound;50,000 from the Scottish Executive.

Schools will be required to make a room available, not necessarily as large as a classroom, in which individual and group counselling sessions can take place. They will asked to make a contribution from their own budget.

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