RSCI Launches New Website to Support Youth Mental Health

A new website focused on helping educators to address the diverse mental health needs of young people has been launched today by RCSI University of Medicine and Health Sciences.

Mental Health Educate provides access to a range of resources to help educators bring mental health and well-being into schools and other educational settings.

The resources were developed by clinicians, researchers and academics at the RCSI Department of Psychiatry, with a number of collaborators across the education, arts and online sectors. They are primarily aimed at educators but free to use by anyone interested in exploring issues affecting youth mental health.

Working to prevent and respond to early signs of poor mental health in youth is recognised as one of the key health imperatives globally. Adolescence is a crucial period for developing and maintaining social and emotional habits that support people to lead fulfilling lives.

The website offers tools for educators including lesson plans, animations and video presentations. The resources draw from the real experiences of young people in Ireland and provide guidance on how to deal with the stress, anxiety and isolation currently experienced by many young people.

Dr Helen Coughlan, Clinical Research Fellow in the RCSI Department of Psychiatry, said: "For years, mental health has been the most significant health issue affecting young people. Now, because of the COVID-19 pandemic, young people’s mental health is being impacted in new and complex ways, and we need to do all we can to support every young person whose mental health and wellbeing might be at risk. Over the past number of years, we've been developing mental health resources for young people and educators with the help of our contributors and collaborators. Mental Health Educate will ensure that teachers, parents and other educators have free access to these resources now and into the future."

Professor Mary Cannon, Professor of Psychiatric Epidemiology and Youth Mental Health in the RCSI Department of Psychiatry, said: "The pandemic has put a massive strain on many young people who were already struggling with their mental health, because of social isolation, academic pressure, or breakdown in support structures. One of the obstacles to young people is lack of knowledge about where and how to get support for mental health difficulties. We hope these resources will help teachers, parents and other educators to raise mental health awareness in environments that have the potential to positively influence the mental health and wellbeing of young people."

Professor David Cotter, Professor of Molecular Psychiatry at RCSI and Mental Health Educate Principal Investigator, said: "The psychosocial effects of COVID-19 disproportionately affect young people. Now, more than ever, we need to ensure that mental health resources and services are accessible for all those who need them. With funding from the Health Research Board Knowledge and Dissemination Scheme, Mental Health Educate will support educators to engaging in meaningful mental health discourse, supporting positive awareness and a culture of support."

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