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Mental health tool secures award for St Joseph’s TY team

SUPPORTING mental wellbeing and resilience is the aim of a project which has recently scooped a major award for students at St Joseph’s Secondary School in Tulla.

Ten Transition Year (TY) pupils created an innovative mental health tool which won them an ‘Investing in Children’ Award for the Child and Family Agency, Tusla.

The aptly named ‘I-Can – Mind My Mental Health’ tool was created and developed to support the well-being and resilience of young people. I-Can is a pocket-sized tin can which contains daily mindfulness and coping strategy activity cards that young people can use on their own, with family members, or in a group. It also comes with a QR code which, when scanned, links to a bank of further mindfulness resources and activities hosted on the Tusla website.

I-Can stemmed from the need for an accessible tool to support young people to adapt through the various stages of Covid-19, managing their lives with a positive, resilient outlook. The project originated from and was funded through a Tusla Child and Youth Participation initiative. To develop the project, the school team worked in conjunction with Health Service Executive (HSE) Clinical Psychology and Tusla’s Clare Prevention, Partnership and Family Support (PPFS).

The launch of I-Can and award presentation, attended by a number of the school’s students, staff and guests, took place outdoors at the school.

Aisling Mulhall, Senior CFSN Coordinator with Tusla’s Clare PPFS and project lead, commended the students on their innovative approach.

“This project is a wonderful example of how young people can participate and make an impact on their own lives and the lives of others,” she said. “In particular, it shows how they took the challenges posed by Covid-19 and came up with solutions. The project is a testimony to the wonderful young people in St Joseph’s Secondary School, Tulla and the energy and enthusiasm of professionals working in Clare, especially the staff at HSE Clinical Psychology and in St Joseph’s Secondary School.”

Olivia O’Connor, Guidance Counsellor highlighted the resourcefulness of the TY team. “Our students showed unbelievable resourcefulness with the way they embraced the theme and developed this resource,” she said. “I was and am constantly amazed by their innovation. The ‘I Can’ really is of young people, by young people and for young people.”

One of the students said that the project was a great way for themselves and others to overcome the challenges posed by the lockdowns.

Principle of St Joseph’s, Juliet Coman said many people will benefit from the students’ work.

“As a school, we are so proud to be involved in the ‘I-Can Mind My Mental Health’ project,” she said. “It is time we spoke openly and frequently about minding our mental health and promoting wellbeing. Building a resilience tool has taken this initiative to a new level. I am proud of our students and teachers who have played such a vital role here and am very grateful to Tusla. I sincerely hope that many young people benefit from this resilience tool.”

The project group consisted of ten TY students, three school staff members; two guidance counsellors and the TY Coordinator; three Clinical Psychology staff and two Tusla Prevention, Partnership and Family Support (PPFS) staff.


About Fiona McGarry

Fiona McGarry joined The Clare Champion as a reporter after a four-year stint as producer of Morning Focus on Clare FM. Prior to that she worked for various radio, print and online titles, including Newstalk, Maximum Media and The Tuam Herald. Fiona’s media career began in her native Mayo when she joined Midwest Radio. She is the maker of a number of radio documentaries, funded by the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI). She has also availed of the Simon Cumbers Media Fund to report on development issues supported by Irish Aid in Haiti. She won a Justice Media Award for a short radio series on the work of Bedford Row Project, which supports prisoners and families in the Mid-West. Fiona also teaches on the Journalism programmes at NUI Galway. If you have a story and would like to get in touch with Fiona you can email her at fmcgarry@clarechampion.ie or telephone 065 6864146.

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