SCOTLAND’S Rural College, and its Students’ Association SRUCSA, are taking the lead, when it comes to living with mental health.

As a symbol of its commitment to help students struggling with depression, SRUC has unveiled a statue of a black dog, named Shady, at its Ayr campus, along with a new Twitter account.

The statue is the brainchild of leading mental health charity SANE, which aims to reduce the stigma surrounding mental health and to provide support for those who are struggling.

A universal metaphor for depression, the black dog forms the basis for SANE’s campaign to raise awareness of depression and other mental illnesses, enable people to find a more accessible language in which to express inner feelings of anxiety, loneliness or despair, and to encourage them to seek help.

Shady’s Twitter account – @shadythedogsruc – will tweet positive daily messages to his followers.

Sonia Filby, Student Experience Manager at SRUC, said: “We are delighted to welcome Shady to SRUC. The black dog is a symbol of our commitment to the mental wellbeing of our students.”

Gemma Jones, President of SRUC Students’ Association, said: “Mental health issues can prevent any student from fulfilling their academic potential. 

“Access to the right support at the right time is critical for our students.”

Marjorie Wallace, Founder and Chief Executive of SANE, said: “College should be an exciting and enriching experience for students, but it can also be a stressful and challenging one.

“It’s extraordinary how having a visible symbol can liberate people from shame or embarrassment in talking about their feelings of depression, stress or anxiety.”

SRUC have launched their three-year healthy learning and wellbeing strategy to support students and staff which can be viewed online.