Looking Back!

Alan White New

Alan White

Last March when I wrote my first piece for Creaghcastle Publishing, I was very nervous to say the least. I have learned over the past year that, when writing anything, you are putting a piece of yourself out there. The thought of this frightened me if I’m honest, and looking back over my first few contributions, I can clearly see myself skirting around my ideas, along with a reticence to include much about myself.

Over the weeks I have become more comfortable with the idea of sharing my ideas and experiences. This week I have been thinking a lot about the change we can make to the lives of young people. One thought that really struck me was, is this making a difference? I did an interview recently for a newspaper (all will be revealed in the New Year), and while chatting with the journalist, we spoke about the need to ensure mental well-being education is a core part of school life.

To do this, well-being needs to be both explicit and implicit within our schools. Explicit in that it is taught to students, and implicit in that a culture of well-being needs to be woven into the fabric of our daily routines within schools. This includes how we interact with each other within school communities, how we negotiate problems we face and how we prepare our students academically.

I believe that we are edging closer to an open attitude towards well-being education, and I am hopeful for the future. Over and over we hear in the media that we must get Mental Health education into our schools. I agree with this, but we must now begin to look at how we get mental health education into our schools.

Over the last 2 weeks along with two of my colleagues, we have started a 30 day well-being programme with the 2nd years in our school. Although we are only ten days into this programme, we have noticed that the students have responded very well to it. We have also gathered data on how they experienced the programme. This was very positive and they are looking forward to the next part of the programme in the New Year.

Many parents are now asking for their children in other year groups to get the opportunity to take part in the programme. I will talk about this programme in a future piece, but for now I want to highlight the openness from both parents and students to engage in well-being education.

This is very encouraging and is a small step in the right direction. This year, for me, has been very much a learning process. I have had my first book published, Choices. I have launched a 30 day mental well-being challenge called Changes, endorsed by the HSE. This has now also passed clinical trials, and I am working on what will hopefully be a new resource for primary schools in the New Year.

Writing these blogs every 2 weeks has been an amazing experience for me and hase really taught me a lot about myself. I am looking forward to writing many more in 2017. As more and more of us begin to see the value of well-being education, I hope that next year will be the year of how we begin to introduce this into schools, not the year of we should.

I would like to wish everyone a happy Christmas and new year. Please remember to take time out over the coming weeks for yourself. As well as being a special time it can be for some a stressful time. This time of year can be a time to reset and begin again with fresh energy and new hope.

Link to shop: Choices – Facilitators Manual Description

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