Teaching the next generation to talk about mental health
Alongside his training to become a primary school teacher at Edge Hill, student Michael Quinn is also helping to educate children and young people across the North West to talk about their mental health.
Michael, 26, is a Support Mentor for Tackling the Blues, Edge Hill’s mental health literacy programme for schools delivered in partnership with Everton in the Community and Tate Liverpool. As part of this role, Michael wants to provide the next generation with an opportunity to learn about their mental health literacy.
Michael, from Liverpool, said:
“I don’t really have any memory of learning about mental health when I was at school, I suppose the conversation was never meaningful enough for me to take note of.
“Tackling the Blues is a fantastic initiative because it offers an early intervention that can help young people to develop the skills to help keep their mind healthy which is important because in my experience, if you have a healthy mind then everything else follows on from that.”
The sport, physical activity, arts and education-based mental health literacy programme supports children and young people aged six to 16 years who are experiencing, or at risk of developing, mental illness.
Michael, who is currently in his second year studying Primary Education with QTS, works on the arts strand of the programme. This was established through a new partnership with Tate Liverpool to encourage young people to use art as a tool to explore, understand and increase their mental health literacy. He said:
“We aim to have a thread of creativity running through all the lessons we deliver. Art and creativity are great for learning and they’re also an important vessel for exploring emotions and feelings, and mental health feeds into this.
“We also want to stress to the children the benefits of working as part of a team. Personally, I find something profound in the possibility of collective effort and collaboration and I think that’s important when you’re talking about mental health.”
Michael also highlighted the challenges that home schooling and national lockdowns during the COVID-19 pandemic have posed to children’s mental health. He said:
“I don’t think it can be overstated how important early intervention and education around mental health is and the influence it has on the person you become. Over the past 12 months, pupils have missed out on socialising, playing and growing together and instead, their entire world has been on a computer screen.
“In a time when there is so much change and uncertainty, we hope that Tackling the Blues offers an outlet for children to open up, express themselves and positively interact with one another.”