Teenagers open up on mental health

Teenagers are opening up about issues that affect their mental health as part of a programme to help prevent suicide.

The initiative has helped single out Carrigaline Community School as one of 45 to be awarded Ambassador School status by the Cycle Against Suicide charity.

The Co Cork school’s second such award followed classwork based around their papier mâché sculpture of the brain and the discussions with transition year students about how different feelings affect them.

“A big thing was stress; they don’t realise they are stressed, or that there are services available to them,” said teacher Mary Buckley. “There’s still big pressures too around social media, and for likes and comments all the time.

“But they’ve definitely learned to talk to their friends about their feelings and mind each other more. I’ve also seen students who were very introverted come out of themselves a lot more.”

At a ceremony in Dublin’s Farmleigh House, the efforts of the 45 schools to promote positive mental health awareness were applauded.

“The aim of Cycle Against Suicide is the reassurance that it’s okay not to feel okay, and it’s absolutely okay to ask for help,” said chief executive Paul McBride.

“Students, teachers, and principals are making a real difference in promoting open communication and action in their communities, for which they deserve to be immensely proud.”

All the schools honoured yesterday had to satisfy five sets of criteria, including getting active, hosting a mental health week, and project work. The approach encourages active engagement and participation among students and staff, not just within their schools, but also in their communities.

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