Promoting Healthy Relationships

Young adults with learning disabilities are being helped to explore relationship issues, thanks to the work of NHS Forth Valley health promotion staff and Central Sexual Health.

Led by NHS Forth Valley Senior Health Promotion Officer Pamela Vannan, Community Sexual Health Educator Joanne Barrie and INTER-ACT Education Worker Mary Scott Watson, the team has produced a series of easy-to read Photo-stories which look at issues including friendships, intimate and sexual relationships.

The resource was officially launched at Forth Valley College in Stirling, which trialled the project. Students with learning disabilities were filmed in the College, assisted by other students as extras.

NHS Forth Valley Senior Sexual Health Adviser Hazel Somerville is pictured showing students Darren Rooney and Stephen Henessey the Photo-stories online.  Darren (centre) said:

 I think they will help. Relationships might look alright in public but there could be things going on in the background. This will give people the confidence to come forward and seek advice.”

NHS Forth Valleys Pamela Vannan added:

 We want to help young people with learning gain a greater understanding of a wide range of relationship issues. This includes meeting and making friends, starting a romantic relationship, dealing with conflict, saying yes or saying no and dealing with the end of a relationship.

A number of photo-stories have been produced, each following the stories and issues faced by separate couples. These include:

•    Anna and Bob meet, get to know each other, and then make a joint decision to go to the sexual health clinic.

•    Callum and Denise become boyfriend and girlfriend but Callum is very possessive and controlling.
•    Gina and Harry meet online. Gina is surprised when they meet. Harry is not what she expected him to be.

The Photo-stories are designed to be used with groups or on an individual basis and guidance notes have been written for educators and carers/support workers.