Ayrshire College has rolled out a new project called ‘The S Word’, focusing on promoting positive mental health with the introduction coming as a marker of World Suicide Prevention Day on Friday, September 10.

The S Word is a campaign that will support an ongoing ambition to promote positive mental health messages, and internal support services, for students who find themselves feeling mentally vulnerable during their studies.

It involves messages on suicide prevention and awareness that will resonate with all students, but many key messages will be targeted specifically at the male student population.

Ayrshire College employs a mental health liaison officer, Michelle Morton who took up the position in April 2021.

She has been instrumental in launching The S Word campaign, alongside Ayrshire College’s Equality and Inclusion Advisor, Sara Turkington.

She said: “Primarily it’s a campaign based on recognising how prevalent suicide is within our own communities. Suicide prevention is something I’m very passionate about. The most important thing is to normalise the conversation of suicide.

“Be a friend and if you notice changes in your friend’s behaviour, don’t be afraid to ask the question ‘are you suicidal?’. Particularly males, as the suicide rate for males is three times as high as females nationally and locally. These are some of the messages that the S word campaign is promoting.

“A big part of it is to say, ‘it’s okay to not feel alright’. The support is there, the support within the college is confidential so please don’t ever be afraid to reach out to anybody within the college if you’re struggling with your mental health.”

Find more details on the Promoting Wellbeing Group and contribute your thoughts at www1.ayrshire.ac.uk/about-us/wellbeing.