EXPLORE is a fantastic way for students and lecturers to work together. In this article, John Campion and Dr Aleisha Clarke explain how they devised a mental health event for secondary schools, along with Professor Margaret Barry…
Mental health is increasingly being recognised by Irish society as comprising much more than simply the absence of mental illness. In line with this broadened definition, all of us have a duty to support and foster each other’s mental health and to promote a balance in mental, physical, social and emotional wellbeing.
John Campion, a fourth year medical student, Dr. Aleisha Clarke and Professor Margaret Barry (Health Promotion Research Centre) have devised a mental health promotion event for secondary schools: Fit & Well Week with support from the NUI Galway/NUI Galway Students’ Union EXPLORE Innovation Initiative and other funding. The event has two main objectives:
i. to create an understanding of the importance of mental and emotional wellbeing/fitness
ii. to support the development of problem solving, communication and coping skills among young people
A total of ten schools in Galway, Sligo and Dublin are taking part in Fit & Well which will take place from 15-19 April 2013. Each school will receive a resource pack which contains a series of recommended activities for use as part of promoting positive mental health/fitness throughout the school. Core activities include:
- SPHE (Social, Personal and Health Education) Activities: these activities are based on readily available, evidence based online mental health promotion websites (ReachOut.com and See Me) which are combined with worksheets designed specifically for the Fit and Well week.
- ReachOut.com is an information based website that aims to provide quality assured mental health information and inspiring real life stories by young people to raise awareness about mental health and the development of personal skills
- “See me” is a Scottish campaign which is dedicated to helping young people to understand the problems that they might face and what they can do to look after each other.
The online resource pack is intended for use by teachers with secondary schools students. It is designed to help SPHE teachers talk about and approach the subject of mental health with an emphasis on the use of online technologies.
- Cross-curricular: in addition to promoting positive youth mental health through SPHE classes, schools will carry out a series of activities across multiple subjects including: English, Gaeilge, Home Economics, PE and Art.
- Fit & Well Wall: Each school is asked to create a Fit & Well Wall in a prominent area of the school. This wall can display key messages from the week and also relevant work created during Art, Home Ec, Gaeilge etc.
- Happy Colours Day: Schools will engage in a Happy Colours (non uniform) Day where students are encouraged to wear bright clothes. Pupils’ donations will be given to a local youth mental health charity.
We are grateful to the funders of this project, including: the NUI Galway/NUI Galway Students’ Union EXPLORE Innovation Initiative, The Sligo Institute of Psychiatry and O2 Think Big. www.su.nuigalway.ie/explore http://www.o2thinkbig.ie/