Mr George Mackie has agreed to take over the position of Child Wellbeing and Protection Manager from Stewart Taylor who has held the post for a long period of time. George, a former teacher, has great experience working in the field of children’s wellbeing at management level and he will contribute to ensuring the safety of those involved in school football activity. George can be contacted via the SSFA Office at Hampden Park.

George and Stewart attended last week a day- long conference with the SFA’s International Learning Set. The group, which represents the minor associations affiliated to the Scottish FA, heard an excellent presentation made by Mr Mark Fleming of Positive Mental Health Scotland who also works with the Chris Mitchell Foundation.

Mark presented to the minor associations in an attempt to signpost how all those involved in football can ‘look out for each other’ in matters that are often not talked about openly. As well as promoting the SFA’s Mental Health First Aid course which is available on a monthly basis, Mark thoroughly covered such topics as What is Mental Health, Understanding and addressing depression, Understanding and addressing self -harm and How to have positive mental.

His main emphasis was how it was necessary for us all to look after our friends, colleagues and team mates by offering a simple support. A simple approach to a friend – ‘How are things? I have noticed a few changes in you in recent weeks. I’m concerned about you – is there anything wrong?’ Mark suggested that this type of non -judgemental approach was a way for a person suffering from a mental health issue to perhaps begin to talk about things and to seek professional help.

Mark showed two short videos available on You Tube and recommended this as a way to introduce the topic to groups or indeed individuals. ‘I Had A Black Dog’ and ‘Having A Black Dog’ were informative and very watchable. He also provided links to organisations who can offer support such as, ‘Breathing Space’ and The Samaritans.

Links to agencies that can provide help and provide training for dealing with mental health issues in sport are available on the Scottish FA website or from Mr Ross McGowan Child Wellbeing and Protection Co-ordinator at the Scottish FA.

The biggest point Mark emphasised was that we can help simply by ‘ keeping an eye out for our pal’.