Video: Mental health focus for Grammar students' film

L-R Susan Glass, Cookstown and Western Shores Area Network (CWSAN), Kieran Mulvenna (Carrickfergus Grammar School), David Babington (Action Mental Health), Sarah Boyd (Carrickfergus Grammar), Fiona McCormick (Nexus NI), Dylan Sproule (Carrickfergus Grammar), Conor Begley (BEAM Creative Network), David Duly (Action Mental Health).
L-R Susan Glass, Cookstown and Western Shores Area Network (CWSAN), Kieran Mulvenna (Carrickfergus Grammar School), David Babington (Action Mental Health), Sarah Boyd (Carrickfergus Grammar), Fiona McCormick (Nexus NI), Dylan Sproule (Carrickfergus Grammar), Conor Begley (BEAM Creative Network), David Duly (Action Mental Health).

Students at Carrickfergus Grammar School have produced a film to explore the 'stigma' surrounding youth mental health.

Year 9 pupils from the school created the short piece, called Heads Up, to help other students develop resilience in mental health.

The film was produced with the help of the Social Investment Fund and saw pupils take part in innovative and interactive workshops in drama, creative writing and storyboarding.

The piece was then produced by the students from script to screen to help improve mental health and resilience in children and young people.

The young people featured are all pupils from the school and together they explore the topics of self-esteem, exam stress, body image and the effects of social media.

Heads Up introduces the concept of the '5 Ways to Well-being' (Learn, Be Active, Give, Take Note and Connect), along with the importance of looking after your mental health as well as your physical health.

The film, which was facilitated by Beam Creative Network, was launched at a special screening on February 26 at the Omniplex Carrickfergus.

The screening was attended by pupils, staff, family and friends of those involved.

Pupils had previously taken part in mental health and resilience workshops delivered by the Northern Area Mental Health Initiative.

The initiative is an exciting project led by Cookstown and Western Shores Area Network (CWSAN), in partnership with Action Mental Health and Nexus NI.

It offers free mental health awareness and resilience training, internet safety, sexual abuse and exploitation education to children and young people aged from 8 to 25 in schools, youth clubs and through key contacts such as teachers, youth group leaders and parents group.

The scheme is currently available to people living in the Coleraine, Newtownabbey, Carrickfergus, Ballymena, Antrim and Larne areas.

Kieran Mulvenna, principal of Carrickfergus Grammar School said: “We are delighted to be involved with the Northern Area Mental Health Initiative’s ‘Heads Up’ film and the students were really excited to take part.

"School years can be an extremely stressful time for young people, [so] it’s important that we raise awareness of the signs and symptoms of mental ill-health and the importance of good mental health and emotional well-being. We also wanted to let the students know the importance of and seeking support if they feel that they need it.”

David Babington, Action Mental Health Chief Executive added: “With more than 20 percent of young people suffering significant mental health problems by the time they reach 18, developing resilience and coping strategies from a young age is crucial to prevention of mental health problems in the future.

"Having students and young people leading in production of the ‘Heads Up’ video means that we got to hear their voices and experiences The Initiative project is available across the Northern area and we would like all schools who have yet to avail of our mental health & resilience workshops to register their interest. The workshops are not just available to schools – if you work with children and young people in any space where they gather e.g. community groups and training institutions, sports clubs, youth clubs – this training is also available in these settings.”