Co-ordinator: A. Garvey
The Pieta House Amber Flag initiative recognises the individual efforts of primary and secondary schools, companies, and groups to create healthy, inclusive environments that support mental well-being. It unites us in our efforts as we work together toward a happier, healthier Ireland and the eradication of the stigmas associated with mental health issues.
To be awarded the Pieta House Amber Flag, applicant groups must host a mental health awareness event, a fundraiser, and a mental health initiative. The programme encourages teamwork and student contributions and works with school guidance counsellors to include a peer-support element. In September of 2018 we registered our interest in earning an amber flag for our school. Below is an overview of the work done in pursuit of this award.
Our Positive Mental Health Day
We organized our positive mental health promotion day to coincide with World Mental Health Day on October 10th 2018. Our theme this year was gratitude. We set up a tree in the reception area and every student was invited to write down something that they were grateful for in their lives and to attach it to the tree.
We also organized a gratitude quiz for all first year students and their mentors from fifth year. They walked laps of the school perimeter while answering a range of questions on the things that they are grateful for in their lives. They also discussed the importance of taking time out to exercise and to reflect on the positive things in their lives.
Our Gratitude Tree
The Gratitude Walking Quiz
We also set up a display opposite the entrance to the canteen to raise awareness among our students of the supports that are available in our school and in the wider community.
Our pastoral care cards which contain the contact details for a range of national support services as well as reminders of where to access help in school were also distributed on the day.
Our Pastoral Care Cards
Each year we organise a “Stand Up” week to raise awareness of the issues surrounding inclusion for members of the LGBTI+ community. All students receive classes on homophobic bullying, sexual orientation and gender identity. Senior cycle students partake in workshops provided by a local organisation who facilitate support groups for LGBTI+ teens in the area.
The school also distributed rainbow wristbands to students and staff who wanted show their support for “Stand Up”.
Promoting Positive Mental Health Within the Curriculum
When we completed our audit at the beginning of our Amber Flag journey we saw that we were doing quite a lot to provide education and support on a wide range of mental health issues at junior cycle through SPHE and Wellbeing classes. Junior cycle students engage with the Pieta House Resilience Academy, the My Friends Youth programme and the Think B4 U Click programme as well as the SPHE curriculum.
However, we found that significantly less is being offered to senior cycle students. This is an issue that we are now seeking to address. In order to ensure that progress was made this year two members of staff have been trained to deliver the Mindout programme. Aware also delivered a six-week resilience workshop to our TY students. We are currently reviewing our senior cycle provision with a view to ensuring that all students will receive tuition on positive mental health maintenance and promotion going forward.
Darkness into Light @ BCS
Last year we hosted DIL for the first time. The event was a massive success. It raised awareness of the supports provided by Pieta House among our students, staff and the wider community. It also raised money so that they can continue to assist people affected by suicide and self-harm.
This year we launched our DIL event for 2019 on Monday March 25th. The launch was attended by our students, staff and sponsors. Work is currently underway to make sure that our 2019 event is as big, and hopefully bigger than last year’s.