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Samaritans help in teen well-being

A dvd and teaching materials designed to help teenagers develop the emotional resources needed to cope with life's difficulties has been sent to every secondary school in Scotland.

The Developing Emotional Awareness and Learning programme has been created by the Samaritans to improve the emotional health and well-being of young people. The resource pack, which includes guidance materials and activities for teachers, a DVD with sections for staff and pupils, lesson plans and fact sheets, is targeted at teenagers to be used as part of a whole-school approach.

DEAL seeks to equip pupils with positive coping skills and tackle the fear of asking for help. The DVD includes an animation introducing pupils to emotional health and short films about good and bad listening skills and coping strategies when faced with an emotionally challenging situation.

The lessons are cross-curricular and can be integrated into a range of subjects, including English, drama and geography. Topics covered include units on emotional health awareness, communication and listening skills, stress, bullying, self-harm, depression, suicide, mental health and the media and celebrating diversity.

Stewarton Academy in Ayrshire tested some of the materials after the Samaritans delivered a training session to the guidance team. Arlene Moore, depute head, says: "We piloted it with S3 and S4 personal and social education classes. I felt it was targeted at the right age group. It was particularly useful for boys. It helped develop the students' emotional intelligence. I think it's a difficult area, especially for boys. There was role-play, group work, various scenarios. It encouraged them to think in a more lateral way.

"A variety of benefits were noticed: it helped pupils to consider different approaches when dealing with conflict, it encouraged them to think about cultural diversity and it improved their social skills, such as listening.

The issues surrounding mental health lost their stigma and students shared their experiences more easily."

* www.samaritans.org.uk

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