Aspire to Be at Birchwood Highland have had the opportunity to lead information sessions for pupils at Inverness Royal Academy and Gairloch High School to highlight some key facts about mental health, the importance of building personal resilience through life’s ups and downs, and how we can each build our own unique tool kit to assist us in staying well. This is also an opportunity to equip young people with signposting information to services that may be of help to them or a friend, either now or in the future. We also take the opportunity to evaluate sessions , and this enables us to develop these to best meet young people’s needs, and to learn from young people what they feel the priority is for information.
For example, when we asked young people “What do you think is the most important information for young people to have about mental health?” their answers included:
“You’re not alone”
“How to help friends etc”
“Support and diagnosis”
“How many others are also mentally ill”
“Knowing that they’re not the only one”
“Where to get help”
“How to help others”
“Speak to people”
“There is help”
“That mental health issues are not all about image”
“Knowing that people are out there for you”
“To have confidence to speak to others”
We also asked pupils to write one sentence that summed up their experience of the information session, and these included:
“It felt more accessible and friendly than some other talks”
“I thought it was eye opening”
“It showed me another way of thinking with the tool box thing”
“There was a lot of information to take on board”
“Learned to ignore the stigma”
“Good as I know what to do or how to help someone”
Youth and Philanthropy Initiative (YPI)
We have been delighted to have been included in a number of events in schools across Highland as part the Youth and Philanthropy Initiative (YPI) that many schools are now adopting as part of their curriculum. This gives young people the opportunity to learn about the work of charities in tackling social issues in their area.
Within Birchwood Highland pupils can also choose to learn more about our work in community services in either Inverness, Lochaber or Easter Ross, about our Recovery Centre, or about work that focuses on young people with Aspire 2 Be (A2B). Pupils then visit us and research how we work, and then present on the service and the difference the service makes to the people we support. It is an absolute privilege when a team chooses to represent our work and highlight mental health, and our work on mental health recovery to their fellow pupils, and we are happy to support YPI and approaches from young people wanting to learn about us in any way we can.
Parent/Child Communication Project
This project undertaken during 2016 in one of Highland's secondary schools looked at the best way parents can communicate with their children to discuss issues or concerns regarding mental health. From our work in this field we have learnt how young people can feel unsupported and parents are a key source of support so this project was aimed at highlighting some of the best ways to open channels for parents. This project was undertaken in partnership with the University of the Highlands and Islands and HUG (Action for Mental Health), a collective advocacy organisation here in the Highlands and involved focus groups of young people in the secondary school and separate focus groups with parents. A copy of the leaflet produced as a result of this research can be found here.
For further information about our work in schools please contact Linda Birnie, Community Services Manager firstname.lastname@example.org
01463 236507 or 01463 241009