The list of badges available to Girl Guides once focused on skills such as baking, beekeeping and even telegraphy.
But, in a move to equip members for the day-to-day challenges of life in the 21st Century and tackle what is viewed as one of the last great stigmas, the organisation is introducing a new award promoting awareness of mental health issues.
The new “Think Resilient” badge will encourage girls to deal with stress and discuss problems openly.
A special course – to be taught by fellow young people rather than traditional Guide leaders – will explore techniques for positive thinking, “self-calming” and problem solving.
Designed in conjunction with the mental health charity Young Minds, it will include “agony aunt” tasks in which girls work out how best to respond to letters detailing personal problems.
It follows the introduction two years ago of a body confidence badge which girls earn through tasks including spotting airbrushed photographs.
The sessions – run by the organisation’s “peer educators”, aged from 14 to 25 – will also include classes for Brownies and younger Guides.
Research commissioned by Girlguiding last year concluded that more than six out of 10 girls and young women aged between 11 and 21 knew someone who had experienced a mental health problem.
Almost half (46 per cent) of those aged between 17 and 21 surveyed said they had personally needed help with their mental health.
Zoe Dowler, 24, one of the peer educators who helped devise the course said: “Many girls feel there is a stigma attached to talking openly about their mental well-being.
“I hope this resource will help to change that, giving girls the positive and practical solutions they need to build resilience and a safe space to share what’s on their mind.”
Julie Bentley, chief executive of Girlguiding, said: “Our research has found that girls are struggling with their mental health, and yet often feel adults are out of touch with the pressures they face.”
Sarah Brennan, chief executive of Young Minds, said: “Children and young people face numerous pressures as they grow up including family breakdown, stress at school, 24/7 online culture, body image issues, early sexualisation, bullying on and offline and uncertain futures when leaving school.
“Girls face particular pressures which can completely knock their self-esteem and lead to mental health problems.
“Therefore it’s vital that we help them to build their resilience to navigate the world they are growing up in today.
“Peer to peer is a really powerful and effective way to educate, and we are really proud to have been a central part of creating this pathway to help girls and young women build their emotional strength and resilience.”
If you or someone you know needs help, contact the Samaritans: 08457 909090; samaritans.org
This article first appeared on ‘The Telegraph’ on 15 March 2016.