Putting good mental health in the spotlight
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