AMH MensSana helps stamp out mental health stigma in schools

This week, as part of the #CovidWellbeingNI partnership, we have been looking at the stigma that often surrounds mental health.

Education and awareness lie at the heart of normalising mental ill-health and combating the stigma experienced by many people. At Action Mental Health we believe that to tackle stigma, we need to start young! A large part of stigma is borne out of ignorance, and education is key to tackling this. Sharing experiences of mental health helps to stop feelings of shame and embarrassment. Promoting and encouraging children and young people to see out support when they need it, helps them on their journey to recovery. We also believe that training those who work or frequently interact with children and young people also helps to quell stigma, by equipping them with the facts around mental health and stigma, and providing them with the knowledge to identify, converse and signpost.

Michael from AMH MensSana delivering our Healthy Me programme to primary school children.

In Northern Ireland, Action Mental Health’s MensSana service is helping to build mental resilience among its children, young people and adults.

Through a variety programmes, children and young people are being taught mental health awareness in schools, plus impactful ways of sidestepping the stigma to ask for help if they need it.

In primary schools, children can learn how to overcome stigma attached to mental health through the Healthy Me series of projects. Little Healthy Me is for p1-p4 and Healthy Me is for p5-p7. We also offer Healthy Me tailored for Staff and parents.

Our new programme Healthy Heroes is for p7 children and focuses on the transistion between primary and post-primary school.

Provoking Thought is our programme for post-primary young people and can be delivered in schools or community settings. One Northern Ireland teacher whose secondary level school has participated in MensSana’s Provoking Thought programme has been engaging with Action Mental Health for a number of years to help stamp out the stigma surrounding the issue of mental health.

The teacher said the course contents has not only helped the school body from feeling ‘overwhelmed’ by mental health issues, it has also been vital in helping to smooth the milestone transition from primary to secondary school level.

“As well-being co-ordinator of a large school, it was sometimes overwhelming to know how to support the young people, as well as the staff. Hugh Roarty, from Action Mental Health’s MensSana team was able to set up zoom session for both pupils and staff, which proved really useful and feedback was excellent,” she said.

“We have used his presentations in person for several years now and the AMH team always provide fabulous “Provoking Thought” workshops. These have helped our new Year 8s with the transition from primary to secondary education, and also helped with the mental health awareness in senior school. We are even having bespoke programmes during our “Well-being Week” at the start of December.”

For more information on the variety of AMH MensSana courses available for Northern Ireland’s children and young people visit here.

The Covid Wellbeing Hub is packed full of useful resources and sources of support. You can visit the hub by clicking here:

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