A ground-breaking project to help children at a Tayside primary school cope with adverse experiences has been praised in the Scottish Parliament.
Mairi Gougeon, MSP for Angus North and Mearns, highlighted work at Maisondieu Primary, Brechin, which tackles the impact of Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs).
Staff have worked with the Scottish Association for Mental Health and experts in the field of mental health and young people to launch a strategy to support the mental health and wellbeing of children at the school.
This has helped children develop coping mechanisms and build resilience in the face of ACEs, with the work recognised by Mrs Gougeon during a debate at Holyrood.
Studies show ACEs, such as sexual abuse, domestic violence and neglect, can lead to physical and mental health issues for children, not only when they occur but later in life.
Mrs Gougeon said: “The work carried out by Maisondieu is incredible and the staff there deserve an enormous amount of praise for the work they are doing.
“The school has developed a long-term strategy involving parents, the Scottish Association for Mental Health and specialists who work in the area of mental health in young people.
“The school recognises there is no mental health part to the curriculum so is actively trying to do something about it.
“From nursery through to Primary 7, it is helping children explore their feelings and develop coping strategies.
“Our schools cannot solve all the problems or challenges that a child faces when they are at home.
“But they can play a key role in helping to develop resilience and build coping mechanisms to ensure that any ACEs children have do not hold them back or have a lasting impact on the rest of their lives.”
Children who have experienced ACEs are three times as likely to have poor mental health and to be morbidly obese.
They are four times as likely to have had or have caused an unintended teenage pregnancy and nine times as likely to be in the criminal justice system, according to a survey conducted by the UK Centre For Public Health in 2012.
But with as many as 67% of people growing up with at least one ACE, the need to tackle the issue has been highlighted in a 70/30 campaign which aims to reduce child maltreatment by 70 per cent by 2030.
“But this is not just about building resilience — we need to do all we can to prevent ACEs and this means attacking the issue from all sides,” said Mrs Gougeon.
“This is not just a health issue, and not just an education issue.
“It’s about health, education, social work, justice, welfare and many other elements working together to challenge the myriad of issues that children face.
“That is why I fully support the 70/30 campaign which has a goal to reduce child abuse and neglect by 70% by 2030.”