Mental health initiative the best learning tool ‘in years’

A new mental health initiative aimed at secondary school students is being hailed by psychologists as the best piece of experiential learning “in years”.

Breathe, which was set up by Ger Canning, a former school principal who works with the Cork Education and Training Board, offers a range of workshops to teach teens about mental health.

“It’s essentially an early prevention programme. The structure and rationale addresses the reality that problems arise in everyone’s lives but coping with them is a strategy that can be learned,” said Ms Canning. “It covers the prevention field so it doesn’t deal with students who are at the cliff edge, rather it is teaching them to cope in order to avoid reaching that stage.”

Dr Georgie Maher and Dr Claire Donohue, psychologists from the Education and Training Board, praised the initiative and said it teaches young people resilience.

As part of the programme, a public ‘Chill Out’ event is taking place in Dublin tomorrow.

“It’s going to be a great event. We’ll have music and sofas, yoga session, workshops... We’re creating a space people can come into for the day and just relax, chat and unwind,” said Patrick’s Day and Vikings actor Moe Dunford.

While the actor is the newest ambassador to lend his voice to the programme, he said it’s a topic he has always felt passionate about.

“I came from a background where if you fell down or got hurt you got straight back up and kept going. There was no talk of mental health, you were just told to get over it,” he said.

“I don’t have a problem with that, but what I do have a problem with is the possibility that there are young people out there and they don’t feel they have a voice.”

  • The Breathe initiative is running an all-day ‘Chill Out’ event in Meeting House Square, Dublin City tomorrow. For more information go to www.justbreathe.ie.

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