Mountmellick Community School's Amber Flag team is connecting with every secondary school student in Laois as part of Laois Connects Mental Health Week.
The team of thirty, who won their first Amber Flag for Mental Health Promotion last May, have invited all of Laois' post primary schools to take part in a public speaking competition, on the topic 'Mental Health is Everyone's Business... including Mine'.
“We posted invites to every secondary school, as well as St Francis School and Laois Youthreach. Each school is invited to submit a team of two. We are trying to raise awareness that caring for our mental health can be about caring for the person living next door, or beside you in school,” said vice principal Frances Kerry.
The debate takes place in Mountmellick Library on Tuesday October 11, from 10.30am to 1pm.
Each duo must speak for ten minutes between them.
The winners will be chosen by a team of judges appointed by Mental Health Ireland.
Mountmellick's Amber team are not stopping there, they are about to get busy delivering over 6,000 “survival packs” to every secondary school student and staff member in the county, helped by their co-ordinator Joanne Teehan, and Ms Kerry.
“We will make 5,000 packs for students and 1,200 for staff,” said Ms Kerry, who is keeping the contents of the uplifting little packs under wraps, other than to say they will contain positive ideas on how each person can look after their mental health.
“We have been gathering items and we will get our production line into motion this week. Then the Amber team will go out in small groups to visit every secondary school, deliver the packs and talk to the students,” she said.
With most of Laois' secondary schools having already achieved Amber Flags, she hopes it will spur on remaining schools to make Laois one of the first counties in Ireland to have Amber Flags flying in every secondary school.
“That would make positive mental health in our schools a county wide initiative,” she said.
Students mental health is not just affected by school pressures she said.
“Life doesn't stop at the school door. Any problems at home, with their family or their friends, or with the pressures of social media, it all comes in. Then we come to the education bit. Our main focus is exams, but we want our students to turn into solid all round confident human beings,” she said.
For full brochure of events see www.leinsterexpress.ie