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Scotland's Rural College unveils Shady, the Black Dog
Added: 7th Nov 2017

Scotland’s Rural College, and its students’ association SRUCSA, are taking the lead when it comes to tackling mental health problems.

As a symbol of its commitment to help students struggling with depression, SRUC has unveiled a statue of a black dog, named Shady, at its Ayr campus, along with a new Twitter account.

The statue is the brainchild of leading mental health charity SANE, which aims to reduce the stigma surrounding mental health and to provide support for those who are struggling.

A universal metaphor for depression, the Black Dog forms the basis for SANE’s campaign to raise awareness of depression and other mental illnesses, enable people to find a more accessible language in which to express inner feelings of anxiety, loneliness or despair, and to encourage them to seek help.

Shady’s Twitter account, @shadythedogsruc, will tweet positive daily messages to his followers.

Sonia Filby, student experience manager at SRUC, said: “We are delighted to welcome Shady to SRUC. The Black Dog is a symbol of our commitment to the mental wellbeing of our students. Through his very own Twitter account, Shady will be a voice for mental wellbeing support to anyone who needs it.”

Gemma Jones, president of SRUC Students’ Association, said: “There is a growing awareness of the importance of mental wellbeing. It’s vital that students have access to the right support, particularly at such a critical point of their lives. Shady is a terrific symbol of our commitment to work with SRUC and SANE to support those in need.”

Marjorie Wallace, founder and chief executive of SANE, said: “We are thrilled that Scotland’s Rural College has joined us in our campaign to tackle mental health discrimination, adding Shady to our pack of Black Dogs.

“College should be an exciting and enriching experience for students, but it can also be a stressful and challenging one.

“It’s extraordinary how having a visible symbol can liberate people from shame or embarrassment in talking about their feelings of depression, stress or anxiety. It can be easier to say that we are having a Black Dog day, or that the Black Dog is on our shoulder, when we want to express painful moods and thoughts that are difficult to communicate.”

SRUC recently launched a new three-year healthy learning and wellbeing strategy to support students and staff.

The statue of Shady is unveiled at SRUC’s Ayr campus by, from left to right: Wayne Powell, SRUC principal; Sandy Cumming, chair of SRUC board; Jim Hume, convenor of the National Rural Mental Health Forum; Sonia Filby, SRUC student experience manager; and Gemma Jones, president of the SRUC Students’ Association.

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