Vital Mental Health Support Service

10 Apr 2020
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With funding from the European Social Economy Growth Fund supported by European Social Fund (ESF) and Scottish Government, the Foyer employed an educational psychologist and a young people’s counsellor. 151 young people worked directly with the Foyer counsellor and educational psychologist from August 2018 to the end of March 2020.

The Foyer created a new mental health support service for Foyer clients and external referrals. The service was designed for young people residing in areas of multiple deprivation across Aberdeen City and living in families experiencing poverty and inequality. The aim of the service is to enable young people to build resilience, identify their strengths and gain the skills required to break the generational cycle of disadvantage.

Martyna Lambon, Foyer educational psychologist said, “With support from the Social Economy Growth Fund we have built a flexible service with the main aim to support young people in their journey to positive mental health and our interventions are always shaped as a response to the needs of our community.  We have developed tools as part of the project such as FiTMiND, a programme to help with learning and the wellbeing ‘car park’, a tool to make sure we are creating a welcoming environment to work with young people."

Ms Lambon provided assessments, training and interventions for young people and adults. Working alongside Foyer counsellors the new service surpassed expectations and worked with more people than anticipated.

The service supports Foyer Futures, a project for young people disengaged from education. Mental ill health is one of the main reasons pupils are not in school and, as a result of being out of mainstream education, find it difficult to access any counselling services.

A young person said, “I was feeling very low, didn’t want to live anymore and had not been going to school for some time.  Because I wasn’t going to school I couldn’t get any support. Without the Foyer I would have really struggled. I was happy to come to the Foyer space. It was calm and I felt comfortable talking to the counsellor. Once I believed that I could do it, I started to get more confident. I’ve had help in how to achieve my goals and am learning to manage my anxiety. I’m back at school and feel much better about sitting exams.” 

Ms Lambon added, “In addition to the original project outline, we also added interventions to work with young people around Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs). We developed a programme that helps pupils transition from Primary to Secondary school with a focus on building resilience.  We also developed training that focuses on learning difficulties, autism spectrum disorder and cognitive functioning.”

The Foyer team provided Mental Health and Suicide Prevention training and workshops to 250 individuals, from third sector organisations, local authority and a local MP’s office and the licensing trade. The referral process was open to young people, their families, carers, GPs and education providers. This included University of Aberdeen students.

Rick Hughes, head of service, University of Aberdeen Counselling Service, noted “Aberdeen Foyer has become an indispensable signposting resource for the University Counselling Service. The Foyer’s well-designed therapeutic model of psychoeducation provides students with effective tools and techniques to help them achieve their academic goals. The net result is that students build on their strengths and abilities to evolve renewed confidence and life-management skills. All of which can contribute to a new skillset which can set them up better prepared and better resourced for the road ahead. We look forward to maintaining and enhancing our invaluable relationship with Aberdeen Foyer.”

Due to the COVID-19 virus it is easy for people to feel overwhelmed and anxious. The Foyer counselling service is fully open and continues to support young people and adults. Counsellors are currently working from home offering phone and video sessions. If anyone is feeling worried, please get in touch by emailing




The social economy plays an important role in achieving sustainable and inclusive economic growth. The Social Economy Growth Fund will support and grow the capacity of Scotland’s third sector/social economy to increase and improve services for people experiencing poverty and disadvantage. The social economy includes voluntary organisations, charities and social enterprises. The Fund is aimed at organisations established over 3 years whose primary social purpose is to tackle disadvantage, poverty and social exclusion. The Scottish Government is a Lead Partner delivering the Growing the Social Economy strategic intervention under the Scottish 2014-2020 ESF Programme. The Fund is supported by the European Social Fund (ESF) and Scottish Government.

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FiTMiND – a programme designed to help with learning. FiTMiND helps people understand their preferred way of working, provides knowledge about the way their brain processes information, stores it and uses it later, giving people the possibility to train the areas of their brain that causes challenges in day to day functioning.