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Mayo schools are to implement a mental health and wellbeing programme in the classroom over the next three years with the support of local organisations.

The rollout of the MindOut programme in Mayo is a joint project by charities Mental Health Ireland, Mayo Mental Health Association and Mindspace Mayo in partnership with the HSE and the National University of Ireland, Galway (NUIG).

MindOut has been developed by HSE Health and Wellbeing and the Health Promotion Research Centre at NUIG, and has been shown to improve young people’s overall mental health and wellbeing.

The timely roll out of this programmme aims to support the mental health and wellbeing of students and equip them with skills and coping strategies to manage current challenges in their lives, not least those resulting from the Covid-19 pandemic.

The evidence-based Social and Emotional Learning programme was first developed in 2004 with the aim of supporting the social, emotional and mental wellbeing of young people aged 15–18 years in post-primary schools.

The findings from the large-scale evaluation of the programme showed that MindOut has very positive benefits for young people, including improved social and emotional skills, such as coping and emotional regulation, and reduced levels of stress and depression, including for the most vulnerable young people.

The 2017 study also showed that supporting teachers to deliver the programme led to better implementation and more positive mental health outcomes for students.

Peadar Gardiner, Project Manager at Mindspace Mayo said, “We believe we can support future generations of our young people by supporting and investing in the mental health of our youth. That’s why supporting MindOut is so important to us. MindOut is a fantastic programme that has a strong focus on mental health promotion and prevention – helping our young people to flourish and to learn the skills for coping with the challenges of everyday life. We want to give our young people the best possible start in life, and providing them with mental health and wellbeing education is a vital component”.

Niall Dunne, Manager at the Mayo Mental Health Association said, “We are delighted to partner with Mindspace Mayo, NUIG, HSE and Mental Health Ireland to launch the MindOut Programme in Mayo. As a Mental Health Association, being able to teach young people skills for life, including how to cope with everyday difficulties and how to communicate effectively with and get along with other people (while teaching self-awareness and building emotional resilience), is absolutely key to our mission.”

The MindOut programme will be delivered by teachers to senior cycle students in post primary schools over the next three years initially, but it is hoped, the project will continue beyond this and become embedded in the school curriculum.

One to one support will be provided to teachers delivering the programme at local level from the organisations leading the project.

The implementation of the programme will be monitored by NUIG researchers, led by leading mental health promotion expert and author Professor Margaret Barry in order to develop a model of support for the sustainable delivery of MindOut in schools and provide feedback for future delivery nationally.

The Mayo project will help to identify the key factors that support implementation, from within the school and outside of it and will inform the rollout of the programme in post primary schools across Ireland.