New project to help young people with mental health problems

A new project aimed at young people in the Borders who have mental health problems has received a funding boost from the Big Lottery.

One Step Borders, a social enterprise, has received a grant of more than £9000 from Awards for All to pilot the Bridge the Border Barriers project. It will offer peer support from people who, themselves, have experience of mental ill health.

The innovative project will also promote self-management by giving people the tools, skills and support they need to improve their own wellbeing.

Targeting 16-25 year-olds, it will complement existing mental health services.

One Step Borders Director Alex Kennedy, said: “An estimated 28,500 people in the Borders will face a mental health illness this year. We know that young people aged 16-25 are under-represented in services, so this project will specifically target that group.”

He added: “Suicide is the number one cause of death in Scotland for those aged under 35. Since 2002, there has been a national decline in the number of suicides, but this is not the case in the Scottish Borders. Over the last five years, there has been a steady rise in antidepressant prescriptions in the Borders. In 2013-2014 there were 131,542 prescriptions – more than one prescription per head of the population.”

The project will aim to help people living with mental health challenges to:

  • get the support they need to manage their wellbeing through using self- management tools and approaches
  • play an increasing role in supporting each other
  • access support in the community to manage and maintain their wellbeing and help prevent admissions to hospital.

As part of the work, One Step Borders will offer self-management workshops and activities and develop a peer support network.

In a recent survey of all mental health services in the Scottish Borders, 82 per cent of respondents said that there were gaps in services for people with mental health problems.

Alex explained: “When asked what the top priorities were for improvements, most people highlighted the need for peer support. Our project will aim to meet that need and, thanks to Awards for All, we can now get it up and running.”

For more information, e-mail Alex at