Putting good men­tal health in the spot­light

Wishaw Press - - FRONT PAGE -

St Ai­dan’s High School re­ceived a very special visit re­cently.

Ev­ery stu­dent was in­vited to at­tend a men­tal health aware­ness work­shop dur­ing as­sem­bly.

The school was vis­ited by Chris’s House, which stands for Cen­tre of Help, Re­sponse and In­ter­ven­tion Sur­round­ing Sui­cide.

The or­gan­i­sa­tion started up to help of­fer peo­ple who are go­ing through some dif­fi­cult times in life a safe en­vi­ron­ment.

The well-trained staff are there to en­cour­age peo­ple of any age to come for­ward and speak up about their cri­sis. The or­gan­i­sa­tion’s motto: Let’s Talk, clearly shows that the staff and mem­bers want any­one who needs to have a chat about what they’re go­ing through to feel free to con­tact Chris’s House.

Sixth year stu­dent jour­nal­ists David Rus­sell and Chris Quigley went on to in­ter­view Mrs. Kathleen Keeney, the de­pute head teacher who or­gan­ised the event.

She said “With Chris’s house com­ing in today, we’ve just touched on the large amount of sup­port that’s avail­able to us.”

Mrs Keeney added: “It’s good for our young peo­ple to know that peo­ple are here to help, whether it be a pupil sup­port teacher, or Chris’s House, there’s al­ways sup­port.

“I hope that pupils and staff have raised aware­ness of the im­por­tance of look­ing af­ter their men­tal health. I think as well as look­ing af­ter each other, peo­ple know­ing it is okay not to be okay is vi­tal. It’s okay to ask for help, and Chris’s House are here to of­fer help”.

The work­shop was highly in­ter­ac­tive and the team from Chris’s House re­ceived a great re­cep­tion from the young peo­ple of Saint Ai­dan’s High.

The or­gan­i­sa­tion was founded by Anne Rowan who cre­ated it fol­low­ing the sui­cide of her own son Chris in 2011. Sixth year stu­dent jour­nal­ists Re­becca and Emma McConville took the op­por­tu­nity to speak at length to Anne af­ter the fi­nal work­shop event of the day.

They dis­cov­ered that her aim is to cre­ate a place where peo­ple can get the cor­rect help they need: the help that her son, who was suf­fer­ing from PTSD, was de­prived of.

Chris’s House is not part­nered with any other agen­cies but if some­body comes to Chris’s House in need of help re­gard­ing sex­ual abuse or do­mes­tic vi­o­lence they are sign­posted to an­other agency.

As a non-med­i­cal based ser­vice their motto Let’s Talk pro­motes their use of coun­selling ser­vices and holis­tic ther­a­pies which work re­ally well with all of the vis­i­tors at Chris’s House.

The pos­i­tive re­sponse of the stu­dents was a great in­di­ca­tor of how suc­cess­ful the event was.

S6 Peer Ad­vo­cate and Buddy Com­mit­tee.

Ev­ery year, a group of se­nior stu­dents are in­volved in the S1 Buddy Sup­port Sys­tem. There are cur­rently 12 Bud­dies and 10 Peer Ad­vo­cates who help the new pupils set­tle in high school.

The pur­pose is to al­low the S1 stu­dents to have guid­ance and some­one to open up to when­ever they may need it. The Peer Ad­vo­cates are also there to help new stu­dents in the school and are also gain­ing a Youth Achieve­ment award for them­selves in the process. All se­nior stu­dents in­volved in these projects are trained in child pro­tec­tion to en­sure they know the im­por­tance of con­fi­den­tial­ity.

Within the school, there is cur­rently a games club that in­vites S1 stu­dents along in order to get to know the Peer Ad­vo­cates and bud­dies who are there to pro­vide a help­ing hand through their first year at high school.

As well as this, the Peer Ad­vo­cates get in­volved with the S1 stu­dents in im­prov­ing their read­ing skills and en­sure they progress in their lit­er­acy skills.

Rachael Gard­ner, an S6 Peer Ad­vo­cate said: “It’s good be­ing a buddy for S1 pupils as we are young peo­ple who have been through this, we can re­late to them.

“The ma­jor­ity of them are set­tling in well. How­ever, some are strug­gling with the so­cial as­pect of high school and mak­ing new friends, we are here to help them and we are trained in child pro­tec­tion so know how to deal with it.”

Scott Young, also an S6 peer ad­vo­cate, was pleased to be re­ceiv­ing a Youth Achieve­ment Award as part of the peer ad­vo­cate course. “It helps im­prove UCAS ap­pli­ca­tions and looks great on CVs”

St Special visit Ai­dan’s pupils had a visit from Chris’s House staff

Get­ting in­volved Men­tal health sup­port in fo­cus

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