Thumbs up for positive mental health from Larne and Carrick pupils

Around 200 pupils have benefitted from a positive mental health promoting project in east Antrim.

Wednesday, 7th April 2021, 4:12 pm

Children transitioning from primary to secondary school have been learning how to support their own well-being through a project delivered by a collaboration of partner agencies, including Action Mental Health.

The move to ‘big school’ can often present many challenges for children, and in response, the Larne and Carrickfergus Locality Planning Group (LPG) - part of the Children & Young People’s Strategic Partnership (CYPSP) and the Northern Health and Social Care Trust (NHSCT) - offered the mental health promotion project to P7 pupils in the areas.

‘Growing a Healthy, Positive Me’ is based on Action Mental Health’s Healthy Me programme, which promotes well-being and raises awareness of mental health issues among children, their teachers, parents and key contacts.

Children from Moyle Primary School proudly display their Tree of Strength.

The charity’s MensSana teams delivered 30 minute sessions to P7 classes, online, while they were homeschooling. The sessions led children through the principles of the Five Ways to Well-Being, which are key steps designed to promote overall well-being, and involved nine schools.

In a follow up arts and crafts project, pupils were asked to design a ‘Tree of Strength’. This helped to reinforce the positive messages of the online sessions and prompted children to reflect on their own, individual strengths. It also helped to illustrate positive strategies children can use to cope with the challenges they may face in future.

The completed pieces of art were entered into a competition for a chance to win a monetary prize sponsored by the Larne and Carrickfergus LPG which could be used to purchase health and well-being resources for their schools.

The Growing a Healthy Positive Me programme was evaluated as making a very positive impact on the children, who rated it as ‘very good’.

One pupil said: “I loved taking time to think about all of the things I can do and the people I can talk to, to help me feel positive about myself and reduce my anxiety.’

A teacher commented: “The webinar was interactive and very well thought out. Children really loved discussing and drawing the Tree of Strength. It is so relevant during these difficult times of lockdown.’

Kate McDermott, health and wellbeing manager, Northern Health Trust, said: “This is a very positive and welcoming initiative aimed at children transitioning from primary to secondary school during these challenging times. It reflects the responses from the Northern Area Parents, Children and Young People Survey 2020 which highlighted the need to address emotional health and resilience of children and young people at a local level.”

Karen Hillis, service manager with AMH MensSana, commented: “The Growing a Healthy, Positive Me was a great initiative for Action Mental Health to be a part of, and it was an excellent example of collaborative working between the partner agencies of the Larne and Carrickfergus Locality Planning Group, Action Mental Health as well as all the schools and children involved.”

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Click here to read: Mid and East Antrim hailed for Mental Health Charter support in pandemic

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