Mental Health Week

“Show You Care Be Suicide Aware”

To promote suicide awareness throughout the St. Fergal’s Community, our Amber Flag Committee held a Mental Health Week from the 23rd to the 27th of January. Together with the help of the Student Council, Prefects and PEACE OF MIND (TY Mini Company) the Amber Flag leaders, under the dedicated guidanceof Ms O’Brien and Ms Dunne organised events that were targeted at all year groups to ensure full participation from staff and students alike.

Promoting positive messages, encouraging quotes and affirmations and displaying them around our school, positive words on our literacy noticeboard, creating a SMILE ZONE kicked off the successful week on Monday the 23rd of Janurary.

Throughout the week both Junior and Senior SPHE students personalised an amber leaf each which was then placed on our “Positive-itree”, this real tree kindly donated to PEACE OF MIND by Manor Stone Garden Centre and became the focal point of our Mental Health Week. The tree was planted on the school grounds at the end of the week to serve as a constant reminder of the positive work taking place in St Fergal’s College supporting the Amber Flag.

At lunch time Senior Prefects assisted the committee as they launched a “Get Out Get Fit Get Talking” training session targeting those interested in participating in Darkness into Light later this year. Our aim is to get students out walking and talking to each other whilst working towards a common goal. This event was highly successful and will continue every Monday leading up to the official walk.

Ms. Kennedy also distributed copies of Shine: A Girl’s Guide to Thriving (Not Just Surviving) in Real Life, Mary Doherty and Siobhan Hackett. This self-help guide was written by two experienced teachers Mary Doherty and Siobhan Hackett from the Ursuline Convent Thurles. With this book they aim to make young women aware of difficulties that may arise during these formative years, and the best ways to deal with them.

On Tuesday the 24th, the Amber Flag Committee arranged for a number of guest speakers to visit St. Fergal’s to promote a positive mental health message. First up the juniors. Charlie Wynne, the founder of the I’m a friend organisation, discussed bullying and the power words can have on young people. “ I’m A Friend (IAF) is an initiative designed specifically to reduce bullying, associated suicide, and the distress caused by those responsible for bullying and harassment in all areas of society.”  Charlie was a hit with staff and students, with many discussions arising from the topics he covered. The Transition Year mini company Peace of Mind invited Alan and the Youth Suicide Prevention Programme  into the school to speak to our Transition year and Fifth year students. Alan discussed the Four Step Suicide Guide. These steps are a valuable resource, allowing students to identify friends that could be in need of help or simply require a shoulder to cry on. Last but not least, Eileen Keane from Jumpstart Your Confidence spoke to our Sixth years on the pressures social media and the impact it has on their generation. All in all our speakers were a resounding success.

Wednesday the 25th saw whole school involvement in the St. Fergal’s Mannequin Challenge. The Amber Flag Committee decided that this would be a fun way to get their message out there not only to the school community, but the Rathdowney community as a whole. It is true to say that this was indeed a challenge for all of those organising the event. It took weeks to plan, days to develop and hours to set up, but the event was a resounding success.  The Fergal’s community rallied to our cause and helped to push the project over the finish line.

On behalf of the Amber Flag Committee I would like to take this opportunity to thank all of those involved in supporting our initiative, especially Ms. O’Neill, Mr. Conroy and all the staff. Without their understanding and support this week would not have been such a success. To the student Council, Senior Prefects and “Peace of Mind” thank you for your positivity and enthusiasm. We aim to make this an annual even here in school. Keep an eye for our challenge video which will be available shortly…Mr. Dollard is furiously editing the footage as I type.