Life’s ups and downs – including bullying – continue during the strange new normal

Coronavirus continues to dominate the headlines and much of our lives, but this week – Anti-Bullying Week – will remind us of the pernicious issue that continues to blight young lives, pandemic or not.

Anti-Bullying Week 2020 takes place from Monday, November 16th to Friday, November 20 with the theme ‘United Against Bullying.’ The Northern Ireland Anti-Bullying Forum (NIABF) coordinates Anti-Bullying Week in Northern Ireland and has published a manifesto for change to combat the issue.

As the NIABF observes:

“This year, more than ever, we’ve witnessed the positive power that society can have when we come together to tackle a common challenge. Anti-Bullying Week is no different. Bullying has a long lasting effect on those who experience and witness it. But by channelling our collective power, through shared efforts and shared ambitions, we can reduce bullying together. From parents and carers, to teachers and politicians, to children and young people, we all have a part to play in coming together to make a difference.”

As the NIAFB marks the important annual week with a variety of events, Action Mental Health is keen to focus on the part it plays to help children and young people deal with the myriad issues associated with bullying.

AMH MensSana is a service that caters for all ages, but also has a number of projects designed to help our younger generations negotiate their way through life – including the toughest parts, like bullying.

Healthy Me is one such programme. A vibrant and engaging mental health promotion programme, Healthy Me explores emotional and mental health, healthy lifestyle choices and pathways to effective support through imaginative and interactive play and song.

Healthy Me positively promotes mental health and social and emotional well-being in children and has a strong focus on prevention and self-help for Keystage 2 pupils aged from 8 to 11.

MensSana worker, Catherine Cunningham, explains how Healthy Me helps children deal with the complex arena of human emotions.

“We encourage the children to talk about relationships, feelings and behaviours they are familiar with, then we take a vote on what it is about ourselves that we can control, including our own behaviour and how we behave towards others.”

To illustrate this, Healthy Me practitioners employ a useful snippet from the blockbuster Disney movie, Frozen, in which loveable snowman Olaf sneezes and loses his carrot nose as a result. A hungry Sven, a reindeer, spies the vegetable and makes a move for it. But instead of eating it, as viewers suspects he will, Sven surprises everyone, especially Olaf.

Catherine explains:

“We discuss with the children how Sven controls his behaviour and thinks about Olaf’s thoughts and feelings and chooses a kind and helpful behaviour by giving the nose back.”

“Healthy Me encourages children to also talk about helpful and unhelpful feelings and actions and we ask them to put up their hand if they have ever done something mean to someone else. It doesn’t necessarily mean they are a bad person, but that sometimes, everyone feels that way.”

Catherine, a former primary school teacher spoke about ordinary feelings of frustration which can flare up in the playground when children don’t know what to do with their anger.

“A lot of Healthy Me is concentrated around what children can do that is positive instead of them taking things that upset them, out on themselves, or on others. It focuses on controlling their behaviour and how they can talk to someone to help them feel better and more positive about themselves.”

To find out more about Healthy Me and how your school or community group could benefit from this helpful programme contact the:

AMH MensSana team at:
T: 028 9442 5356 E: [email protected]
(all areas except Southern Trust Area)

T: 028 3839 2314 E: [email protected]
(Southern Trust Area)

Healthy Me sessions can also be delivered to parents and carers.

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