The Mind Your Head programme begins with an introduction session followed by five sessions which explore different topics in relation to mental health. Session seven ties together the work of the previous session and facilitates the group to create something (for example posters) that will highlight mental health issues or promote good mental health to their peers. This is followed by evaluations from the young people that took part in the programme.
It is designed as a programme of workshops to be used in sequence as a whole or, in individual parts as needed or required. Each workshop is divided into parts and each activity is timed. Obviously these timings act as guidelines as each group will vary. Some of the topics could be extended over a period of weeks depending on the response and needs of the group. Many of the activities/exercises can be found in the appendices at the back of this resource.
“The Mind Your Head programme proved itself to form a major integral component of our Well-being programme. It provides students with the resources and space to discuss important issues in everyday life. The outcome for those involved ensures that young people can develop coping strategies for adolescence and adult life in support of greater resilience while promoting self-esteem and self-confidence. Getting involved with Mind Your Head has been a very positive experience for our school and in particular our Transition Year students. In 2015 we succeeded in receiving the Amber Flag as a result of our active participation in mental health activities including Mind Your Head. It is my belief that our students and our school have reaped great rewards for our involvement in this programme.” – Karen Cronin, Guidance Counsellor, North Monastery Secondary School ”
WHAT STUDENTS SAID
“it was good fun”
“it gave me an insight into how things can affect you in ways you can’t imagine”
“It was a nice way to talk and be open minded without the supervision of teachers”
“it helped me a lot with my own life and problems”
“yeh, it really helps you to learn about things you are probably going to come to in life at some point”
“we learned a lot about mental health”
WHAT WORKED WELL
From our experience of running the ‘Mind Your Head’ programme with a number of different groups, the following is a list of tips for facilitators.
The young people co-facilitating the activities/exercises
Asking for feedback from the previous week at the beginning of each session
Reviewing the workshops half way through proved vital for tying the whole programme together
The variety of activities and resources used and the range of topics covered meant that everyone responded and had in-put at some point or another
The use of written, visual and discussion based methods catered for all learning types in the group
The mixture of working in pairs, small groups and as a large group helped give everyone the opportunity to participate and created different group-dynamics from week to week.
Practical techniques to relieve stress and relax.
Creating their own peer support (in one case it was posters) and sending them out to various other youth groups gave the group maximum ownership over their learning.
Allowing for flexibility during the sessions to deal with issues/questions that come up
THINGS TO WATCH OUT FOR WITH REGARD TO CHILD PROTECTION
The limitation of time
The number in the group needs to be manageable. This depends on various factors such as; the needs of the young people, the space available, the number of workers etc.
Ensure there is enough practical and appropriate activities and information for each session.
Issues arising for the young people after group sessions
Ensure the group know what supports are available to them
Ensure that there is follow up to any questions the young people have asked
Ensure that there is a child protection policy in place
The creation of a group contract is advised. This contract should be youth led but confidentiality should be brought up. The young people should then be made aware of the facilitators obligations in law with regard child protection and the Children First national guidelines: Click here
When Suicide comes up as a subject
Stop the class and state that something important has just been mentioned
State that suicide does happen for many different reasons
Discourage discussion of any known suicides
State that you are going to talk briefly about helping people who may be thinking about suicide
State clearly: People who are thinking about suicide are still alive and with professional help will be more likely to be still alive for a long long time to come.
Ask rhetorically: What does someone thinking about suicide need? State: someone to listen… someone to care… to be taken seriously…
Ask rhetorically: What if the person asks you to keep it secret?
You cannot keep an issue like this secret.
Holding that secret will not make you feel good
The fact that the person is telling you they have thoughts of suicide is part of them asking for help!
When a person is thinking of killing themselves they are not thinking clearly and they are not in control of their thoughts. They need help from people around them in finding professional help.
You should be discreet but you must tell someone: the school counsellor, teacher, youth worker, a trusted adult
You can also talk to myself (facilitators name) or my colleague (Co-facilitators name)
If in doubt check with a support number; Pieta House Suicide Helpline 1800 247 247 text 51444 or Childline 1800 66 66 66 or text 50101 or chat online : childline.ie
You can help by listening and encouraging them to accept help but always remember you have to tell a trusted adult and if possible a professional
MIND YOUR HEAD:A RESOURCE Designed specifically for youth workers, youth leaders, peer educators
This is a resource for exploring mental health issues with young people. It is designed specifically for youth workers, youth leaders, peer educators, and others working with young people. It is made in an accessible format that we hope makes it easy to use and photocopy.
The programme is very much about giving the young people space and time to explore and talk about their concerns and opinions on mental health. It also highlights tools and supports to help them cope and deal with issues that can have a negative affect on their mental health.
The programme was created with a moderate to low budget as this allows others to follow our programme session by session without needing major funding to do so.
The information, activities and exercises used come from a variety of sources and various training days. We hope that the layout of the session plans and the style used make them accessible and easy for Youth Workers and others to use.
The contents of this resource has been largely informed and influenced by the young people we have worked with. We have included their feedback and responses from the evaluations to give insight into how they found the programme. The poster designs and messages about mental health that you see throughout the resource are from many of the young people who have taken part in the Mind your Head programme.
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