Buckinghamshire Mind’s Peer Support in Schools Service is providing invaluable support to schools as they deal with the effects of the pandemic on children’s mental health. The Service also provides lasting benefits for the children and young people involved as well as the wider community.
The Service, which is available to primary and secondary schools in Buckinghamshire and East Berkshire, trains Sixth Formers and children in Year 5/6; enabling them to become Peer Mentors to fellow students. This training includes mental health awareness and key aspects of their role such as their responsibilities, communication, listening skills and safeguarding.
Olivia Gaynard was a Peer Mentor at Sir Thomas Fremantle School in Winslow and found the experience so rewarding that she has gone on to become Project Leader of Durham University’s mental health support programme, which focuses on helping the students and local community with regards to their mental health.
“The Peer Support in Schools Service is amazing. I’m so pleased to be able to take what I learned as a Peer Mentor at Sir Thomas Fremantle School and to be able to develop my skills and role even further to benefit others,” says Olivia.
Alice Moody is Buckinghamshire Mind’s Children and Young People Team Lead:
“We are so proud of Olivia and the wonderful contribution she is making to improving the mental health of her peers and local residents. Her interest, enthusiasm and dedication to the role of Peer Mentor was clearly evident and we are delighted that she has chosen to apply that same dedication to mental health at university.
“Olivia’s experience is a perfect example of how the Peer Support in Schools Service not only helps the children who share their feelings with Peer Mentors in school, but also the Peer Mentors themselves. The life skills they learn are used throughout their lives, wherever they go, providing a lasting legacy for the whole community.”
With the detrimental effects of the pandemic on children’s mental health, the Peer Support in Schools Service is more needed than ever to help schools to support the mental wellbeing of students.
Emma Barnes, is Year 2 Class Teacher and Mental Health Lead at Burford School, Marlow Bottom.
“The role of our Peer Mentors is likely to be more important now than previous years. Now that we have made a full return to school, it is evident that a number of children are feeling increasingly anxious due to the disruption of the last twelve months plus. At Burford, we believe that the support of a Peer Mentor could make all of the difference to some of our pupils.”
The Peer Support in Schools service is currently funded through grants from Public Health and Heart of Bucks. This enables Buckinghamshire Mind to provide the service free-of-charge to many schools. However, some schools are self-funded and Buckinghamshire Mind is currently seeking further grants, which would enable us to provide the service free-of-charge to more local schools.
See our online guide to local mental health resources at