College unveils ‘Breathing Space Bench’ in a bid to boost mental health awareness

Breathing Space Bench launch attendees

Borders College has unveiled a special ‘Breathing Space Bench’ at its Netherdale campus in Galashiels to encourage staff, students and visitors to take some time out and promote kindness and positive mental wellbeing.

The welcoming space is part of a wider project being run by NHS 24’s Breathing Space service in a bid to boost mental health awareness and enhance spaces where communities are able to connect.

The bench is part of a growing number being installed across the country, including colleges, universities and other community settings. Borders College 

Equalities Officer/Students’ Association Support Officer Amy Brydon, who has been involved in the initiative, commented:

“Sometimes it can be difficult to start a conversation, to ask questions and check if someone is really OK. Often we need to be a bit persistent to get beyond the ‘I’m fine’ response. The Breathing Space Bench at Borders College will give anyone working, studying or visiting the College a place where they know it’s OK to relax, reflect or start a conversation.

“It 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 College will find it a useful place to gather their thoughts, and take time to reflect.”

Breathing Space Bench

Borders College Principal Angela Cox also commented, saying:

“This is a great addition to our support package for staff and students and a statement to everyone on campus that it’s OK not to be OK. 

“Borders College takes seriously the mental well-being of our students and staff and is proactive in creating an environment that is understanding and supportive. “It is a collective endeavour and I am delighted that our Student Association and Student Services team has led on this project.” 

Breathing Space, a phone and webchat service which aims to help people in Scotland living with low mood, anxiety or depression, launched its bench project in 2019 as part of its ‘You Matter, We Care’ campaign. It encourages people to make a positive difference in others’ lives with small acts of kindness and positivity.

Public Health Lead for Mental Health Improvement and Suicide Prevention at NHS Borders Pippa Walls said: 

“The Breathing Space Bench is an important symbol of hope at a time when we are all trying to recover from the effects of the Covid 19 pandemic. As Chair of our local Mental Health Improvement and Suicide Prevention Steering Group I have been pleased to work with Borders College and Breathing Space to bring the special bench to the College’s Netherdale Campus. 

“For Suicide Prevention Awareness Week this September we are encouraging everybody to take action to support others.  Everyone has a role to play in suicide prevention and mental health improvement. It’s often the simple things such as stopping by the bench to have conversation that can really help. Small actions offer others hope, help and support.”

Breathing Space Bench launch attendees

Breathing Space National Coordinator Tony McLaren commented:

“We receive lots of calls from people who are experiencing feelings of isolation, anxiety or depression. We’ve been particularly busy over the last 16 months, with the pandemic taking a toll on people’s mental health.  

“With these benches, we want to spread a bit of positivity and encourage people to make a positive difference in others’ lives by reaching out and showing kindness and compassion. We also want to make people aware of our helpline, so they know they have someone to turn to if they’re struggling to cope.”

You can contact Breathing Space on 0800 83 85 87 if you feel anxious or depressed or feel you need to speak with someone. To access web chat, or for more information, visit: 

ITV Border recently reported on the unveiling of the Breathing Space Bench. You can watch the full news report by clicking on the following link:

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