What were the project aims?
- To deliver a mental health literacy programme to pupils, teachers and parents.
- To learn how to support children and young people as they navigate transitional change from primary to secondary school
- To help children and young people feel able to cope with adversity. and learn in a supportive environment.
- To have a positive impact of culture change within schools around mental health and transition.
- To support school staff in understanding the ways resilience is built and what they can do about it as a part of everyday school life.
What motivated this project?
50% of mental health problems develop by the age of 14, so providing pupils at this stage with the emotional vocabulary, knowledge and strategies to support their mental health will help during the transition to secondary school and beyond.
The transition from primary school to secondary school can be challenging for children as they are very vulnerable at this time. This period can be a trigger for more serious problems to emerge if a child is unsupported when they are struggling to cope.
With Find Your Feet, we decided to take a prevention and early intervention approach to supporting children and young people’s mental health.
Really useful and practical session. Great to support children, parents and adults…Thank you!
What obstacles did we overcome?
Covid-19 resulted in national school closures and affected the delivery of the project. The impact of the pandemic on schools made it vital to continue to provide ongoing support, moving face-to-face delivery to online digital content, including webinars and downloadable resources.
We had to spend time learning about the Northern Irish education system and understanding how it works. As a result, we had to redesign our resources and recruit a remote team of facilitators and youth facilitators based in Northern Ireland. We were able to do this quite quickly to ensure we were able to stick to the delivery timeframe.
Reaching parents via face-to-face delivery was difficult as they could not come in for sessions during school times. To overcome this obstacle, we developed digital resources for parents, which we sent to schools following the sessions.
The Find Your Feet project was a big success, with pupils, teachers and parents increasing their knowledge and understanding of mental health, mental illness, resilience, and self-help strategies.
The programme also introduced pupils, parents and teachers to support services for children and young people experiencing distress.
Below are some figures that demonstrate the reach and effectiveness of this project.
Being part of FYF has been one of my favourite projects as I have literally supported its growth from start to finish, and I am so grateful to have been given the opportunity to have such an imperative position within something so large scale.
Over the three years, we reached...
- 6,225 pupils
- (2,875 primary, 3,350 secondary)
- 69 schools
- (51 primary, 18 secondary)
and delivered face-to-face training to...
- school staff
Top tips learnt from the project
- Understand the gaps in the system to try and think of innovative ways to combat this rather than overlooking them.
- Really engage with the schools and make sure young people involved as their voices and experience are vital.
I have learnt so much about myself from delivering the FYF project and learning to expand my comfort zone.