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New and existing resources on mindfulness and mental health and wellbeing, aimed at the Gaelic home and school communities, have been made available online by Stòrlann Nàiseanta na Gàidhlig.

Stòrlann, the organisation for Gaelic educational resources, has created a new section dedicated to this area and put it on their Gaelic Education website in response to the stresses on learners, their families and educators caused by the pandemic and lockdown.

Education Secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville said: “The Scottish Government recognises the work of Stòrlann Nàiseanta na Gàidhlig in supporting young people across Scotland as they begin to move on from a very challenging period and into a new school year. These resources are vital in ensuring young people have access to resources and practical strategies to help them maintain good mental health and wellbeing.”

Stòrlann resources creator Angela MacMillan explained: “This last year has presented many challenges for young people but mindfulness is a way for children to literally stop, take a breath and feel calm. These resources aim to help children from a young age, learn practical strategies to help them cope with big feelings in a positive way.”

The website is live at https://gaelic.education/en/mindfulness and features five sections. 

The first is a ‘Health and Wellbeing alphabet’, which covers a particular area for each letter. For example, B is for speaking – ‘B airson Bruidhinn’. Each slide, featuring a letter, has a number of tips – such as ‘draw a sketch of the people you can talk to’ or ‘write down what you would speak to them about’ – and then an action or a reinforcing statement, such as ‘I will speak to someone when I am worried’.  Another example is F for ask – ‘F airson Faighnich’ – which asks students to write down the people they would go to if they needed help. 

The next task after that is for students to write down the questions they are wanting to find out about and its reinforcing statement is ‘I will ask for help when I am stuck’. 

Stòrlann’s chairperson, Gillian Campbell-Thow, commented on this one in particular, saying it was relevant to many. “At times, it can seem difficult to ask for help. However, when the alternative is to sit quietly with a growing feeling of uncertainty and worry, it is always best to ask for help!”

Other topics in the alphabet include communication, reflection, exercise and togetherness. Other reinforcing statements include ‘I will use my senses and notice the good things that are around me’ or ‘I will think of people who matter to me and think of how to communicate with them’. 

Calls to positive action are one of the main aims of the new resource, especially given the greater awareness we now have of the importance of looking after our mental health and wellbeing and an understanding of the challenges that have been posed by the home-schooling situation. 

A new and interesting section contains a collection of eight Mindfulness Scripts. The scripts are used to introduce pupils to strategies that support and promote mindfulness and wellbeing. The scripts are available for download as informative pdfs on various aspects of mindfulness. Topics include areas such as ‘breathing’, ‘thoughts’, ‘kindness to self and others’ and ‘thankfulness’. The scripts are suitable for upper primary pupils but can be easily adapted to suit lower primary pupils or Gaelic classes in secondary school.  

For Gaelic Medium practitioners, the site links to three professional development workshops covering Mindfulness, presented by experienced Gaelic teacher Lorna Taggart, and Health and Wellbeing, presented by senior clinical psychologist, Dr Rachel Fraser. This area of support could also be of interest to parents. 

Jim Whannel, Director of Education at Bòrd na Gàidhlig, said: “Bòrd na Gàidhlig have been very pleased to enable this innovative resource through its Covid-19 Recovery funding and we welcome the high quality material produced by the Stòrlann Nàiseanta team. The resource will be a valuable asset for the GME sector and support teachers and families further in the delivery of effective health and wellbeing programmes, which support all our young people.”

Stòrlann’s Chief Executive, Donald W Morrison, commented: “As a new school year begins, Stòrlann is pleased to support the promotion of mindfulness and wellbeing by making new Gaelic resources available to learning communities across Scotland.”

Other features, taken from previously published resources, include the ‘30 Days of Mindfulness’ diary, which aims to encourage open-mindedness and positive thinking, by keeping your mind focused on the positives in life, whether big or small. It should be filled in on a daily basis for best results. In addition to the Diary, a ‘Mindfulness’ section drawn from Ceumannan 5 is made available. Ceumannan is the secondary school resource for Gaelic learners. The unit is ‘Làithean na h-òige, làithean na slàinte’ (Days of youth, days of health) and it includes sound files that aims to encourage relaxation and promote an awareness of wellbeing. It is hoped the unit will be a boost to mental health and wellbeing and foster positive associations with the language, as well as helping with language acquisition.