Minister for Mental Health Clare Haughey has unveiled a special ‘Breathing Space’ bench at the University of Strathclyde – the first to be sited on a Scottish campus.
A welcoming space for the bench has been created within the Glasgow city centre campus, as the University lends its support to the 'You Matter, We Care' mental wellbeing campaign to promote kindness and everyday positive relationships.
Breathing Space is a free, confidential phone service for anyone in Scotland experiencing low mood, depression or anxiety, funded by the Scottish Government and NHS 24.
It aims to raise awareness of the service with an eventual network of the benches and community connectors across the country.
Minister for Mental Health Clare Haughey said: “Mental health is everyone’s business so I welcome the partnership approach being taken by Breathing Space and the University of Strathclyde in installing this bench.
“This helps remind us all of the value of taking time out to reflect, to look after our own wellbeing and to care for family, friends and colleagues.
I hope that, over the coming years, many students and staff of the University will find it a useful place to gather their thoughts, and take time to reflect.”
A special plaque provides those who rest on the bench with contact details for Breathing Space and so far there are two others, one on Troon esplanade in Ayrshire and another in Biggar, South Lanarkshire.
Dr Veena O’Halloran, University of Strathclyde Secretary and Compliance Officer said: “We are proud to be the first University to have one of the benches on campus and this is just the first step in our work with Breathing Space to promote mental wellbeing among our staff and students.
"As well as a place where people can reflect, the bench also serves a reminder that someone is always there to listen.
“Supporting the wellbeing of the university community is one of our strategic key priorities and to that end, in recent years we have made a significant investment in mental health and wellbeing staff and services, including counselling.
“The University has a dedicated online mental health support programme and we are also introducing a training programme on mental health and suicide prevention. This means that all students and staff will have access to training in mental health awareness and mental health first aid.”
Tony McLaren, National co-ordinator for Breathing Space, which takes more than 7,500 calls each month from people across Scotland in need of support, said: “The benches are powerful examples of how kindness and everyday positive relationships can effect change and support the wellbeing of individuals and communities.
“The bench within the Strathclyde campus is just one element of the work we will be undertaking with the University to encourage values of kindness and highlight the importance of connecting, and supporting each other.
“It's important to make students aware of the support which is available and encourage young people to open up when they're feeling down."
Fourth year Strathclyde Psychology student, Shauna Simpson, 21, said: “I think it’s amazing to have the Breathing Space bench as a place to reflect and take a moment because university can be a stressful experience at times.”
The initiative supports the University’s commitment to promoting an environment that supports the mental and physical wellbeing of both staff and students.
Strathclyde’s annual ‘Wellbeing Week’, runs from 18-22 March and offers a range of free events and learning opportunities to support health and wellbeing.