STIGMA surrounding mental health has been sent to the back of the class with a pioneering new project in Borders schools.

The once taboo topics of depression and anxiety are being brought to the table in all of the region's nine secondaries with a new See Me programme.

Delivered by Scottish Borders Council in collaboration with NHS Borders, the scheme aims to help both pupils and teachers to have a better understanding of mental health issues.

It is also hoped See Me will encourage sufferers to seek help and offer them the platform to talk about their condition.

Wendy Halliday, See Me assistant director, told us: “We want to see a culture shift in Scotland around mental health.

"Too many young people feel that they can’t speak about how they are feeling, often because they worry about being judged or dismissed.”

All of the nine secondary schools are also being encouraged to develop a strategy to reduce discrimination that often surrounds mental health.

Peer support training has been provided for more than 800 senior pupils and teachers.

And second-year students have completed a Growing Confidence Cool, Calm and Connected course.

The See Me project is also reaching out to younger children with more than half of primary schools in the Borders delivering training to staff.

Ninian Grant from Earlston High School is one of the S6 pupils who has participated in the programme.

He said: “We covered anxiety, depression, suicide, symptoms of a panic attack and how to help someone.

"It was very informative and useful.”

Scottish Borders Council is the first local authority in Scotland to have adopted such an extensive approach to mental health in the classroom.

Council leader Shona Haslam explained: “In this, the Year of Young People, it feels particularly important that we do all we can to give our young people and the staff who work with them the tools, training and opportunities they need.

“To help young people recover from mental health conditions, they need to be able to speak about it, and get care and support quickly.

"It only takes one adult to make a difference to a young person’s life.

"We all have the power to listen. So we are delighted that schools across the Borders want to help equip adults and young people to have these important conversations on mental health and tackle the stigma which still exists.”

The local authority is also funding a new resilience programme, delivered through Quarriers, for all secondary schools.

The extra cash will add to work already undertaken by the charity.

Angela Freeman, service co-ordinator for Quarriers, said: “We are committed to supporting the resilience and wellbeing of young people and are so pleased that additional funding is to be made available to support our work here in the Borders.

"We have already made good progress with the implementation of our service locally over the past six months.

"A number of workshops have already been held in schools and we are now looking to support young people outside of the school months.”