The pupils of St Mary’s CBS, Portlaoise attended the Cycle Against Suicide Student Leaders Congress in the RDS, Dublin on Wednesday January 25.
This was the start of our journey in becoming an ambassador school for the Amber Flag Initiative, promoting positive mental health.
The day exceeded our expectations, with over 4,000 students and an incredible vibe. It was about far more than a cycle, but about our mission as student leaders to spread the core message ‘It’s ok not to be ok, and it’s absolutely ok to need help’.
A number of guest speakers spoke on the day including Jim Breen, Brent Pope, Bressie, Alan Quinlan, Fionnbar Walsh, the father of Donal Walsh, and Conor Cusack. The speakers spoke of their own personal journeys and the difficulties they faced, such as the challenges of being away from home, being a professional sports player, loss of loved ones etc.
We all go through difficult and dark times, but everyones experience is different. What is the same, however, is that help is always available. There are always people who care about you more than you know, and who want to help you.
We also learnt about how your thoughts influence your words, actions and results. A positive attitude will lead to positive results. We can control our thoughts and thus shape our future. In the words of Gandhi ‘You must be the change you want to see in the world’. The truth is, when we stop worrying about what we don’t have and look for the positives, we start to realise what we do have.
The importance of looking after your mental health cannot be stressed enough. It’s our goal to help promote a positive attitude towards mental health in the school, promoting simple ways to develop a positive attitude and becoming a student body who looks out for one another.
We are planning a mental health week which will take place before Easter, packed full of exciting events such as guest speakers, competitions, a walk and talk, a positivity wall and so on. We are also planning to participate in the Cycle which takes place in April.