17 January, 2019

On a mission to better mental health

A little girl in a superhero costume - Walk In My Shoes Mission Possible school achievement competition launch image

Your school's mission starts now!

Calling all teachers and students – Walk in My Shoes is searching for the next ‘Mission Possible’ school achievement award winners

Walk in My Shoes, the mental health awareness-raising campaign of St Patrick’s Mental Health Services, is calling for students and teachers to showcase their efforts to promote positive mental health in their schools, as it today launches the third annual Mission Possible school achievement awards.

Mission Possible, first launched in 2016, was created to highlight the positive initiatives that students and teachers are taking in their schools to promote positive mental health and tackle the stigma associated with mental health difficulties.

With 75% of all mental health difficulties beginning before the age of 24, mental health awareness and education from a young age is vital in ensuring that young people feel empowered to live mentally healthy lives and know how they can seek help if mental health difficulties do arise.  

The awards are open to and recognise primary and secondary schools from all over the country, not only for their efforts in raising mental health awareness in the classroom, but for their efforts in promoting positive mental health in the wider community.

Last year’s award ceremony saw three primary and three secondary schools from all corners of the country collecting prizes for their contributions to educating, raising awareness and promoting positive mental health among their peers. The winning entries from 2018 included initiatives such as:

  • Daily mental health runs
  • Power of positive thinking activities
  • Concentration station 
  • Sensory rooms 
  • Gratitude trees 

SPMHS' Chief Executive Officer, Paul Gilligan, said: “Over the last number of years, there has been increased awareness that mental health difficulties are heavily impacting on society and, in particular, on children, with a number of reports and studies worldwide highlighting the immediate need to prioritise mental health. Recommendations made by the European Network of Ombudsman for Children (ENOC) in a 2018 position paper address the need to combat stigma, build awareness and enhance wellbeing through the running of specific programmes for children and the public, as well as also highlighting the crucial need to create child-centred, mentally healthy, inclusive schools.”

“While we still have a long way to go in ensuring that all schools can access help for children requiring specialist inputs, there is no doubt that Irish schools have done much to strengthen their work in this area.  Each year, the Mission Possible awards highlight the many positive advances that schools are making in combatting stigma and building mental health awareness, and provide a platform for schools to demonstrate all of their efforts to enhance young people’s wellbeing. The work that is being done by teachers, students and schools across the country is invaluable in providing young people with the foundations to live mentally healthy lives during, and beyond, their school years.”

To enter this year’s Mission Possible awards, schools need to submit a two-page word document outlining their plans, objectives and results in terms of promoting positive mental health in their school. Winning schools can scoop anywhere between a €300 - €1,000 prize depending on where they place.

The closing date for entries is 22 March 2019 and an awards ceremony will be held on 12 April 2019 in St Patrick’s University Hospital.