A STUDENT from New Cumnock helped organise a charity walk to increase awareness of mental health issues.

Jacqueline Blackhurst and fellow health and social care students at Ayrshire College were also raising money for the Scottish Association of Mental Health (SAMH).

The 48-year-old said: “We wanted students and staff to realise it’s okay to not be okay, and that support is available. You are never alone, there is always someone who will listen.

“In our core skills class, we all took on various responsibilities and tasks to organise our mental health event.

“We split into groups to focus on a poster and digital marketing campaign, class based presentations, a sponsored walk and a charity fair.

“After deciding which roles would suit our strengths, we started the task of getting the event organisation up and running.”

They set off from the campus in Ayr to head for Wellington Square, complete with SAMH banners and placards, while they chanted their message in verse.

“We are students in social care, we are walking to make aware, mental health illness in our society, sufferers deal with it silently, it’s not an illness that can be seen, it’s not the stigma as it’s always been, mental health is not a disease, think and see the person please,” echoed on the streets of the town.

Their walk was staged in conjunction with Mental Health Foundation awareness week, which runs from May 8 to May 14.

Two of the core units on the students’ course are Mental Health: An Introduction and Working with Others.

Paul Hough, Ayrshire College’s Mental Health Officer, visited Jacqueline and her colleagues ahead of the walk to discuss the types of mental health issues that affect students most.

He said: “I think the students deserve a lot of credit for the efforts they have put into organising today’s event. It was clear from the public’s reaction when we were walking through Ayr that we were making people stop, think and hopefully start conversations about mental health.”

More events are planned including an Action for Mental Health day on May 11, with information stalls set up in the college.

Lecturer Kerrin Carr added: “I am incredibly proud of my students’ efforts in planning and organising a sponsored walk, charity fair, digital media campaign and student-led workshops. So far the students have raised an absolutely fantastic amount of £377.”