Former Gaelic Footballer, Oisin McConville joins up with Southern Regional College to support mental health and well-being

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Southern Regional College

20th Dec 2022

Southern Regional College (SRC) joined forces with former Gaelic Championship Footballer Oisin McConville, to launch a survival toolkit for students moving to Further and Higher Education (FE & HE). As part of the event launch, local secondary schools from Warrenpoint and Bessbrook attended SRC’s Newry West campus on Thursday 15 December to hear Oisin speak on resilience and overcoming personal difficulties.

Oisin has had his own battles with mental health. Having overcome a gambling addiction Oisin now openly speaks of his experiences and champions available support.  Oisin is a firm advocate of the importance of looking after your mental health, particularly amongst younger age groups studying and transiting between Further and Higher Education.

The toolkit consists of insights and hacks to helps students navigate and settle into new surroundings. However, the toolkit is just one of a wide range of mental health support resources available. A transitioning to HE course and video case studies detailing what is mental health; adopting/adjusting to a new environment; financial, social and academic challenges plus how to improve mental health and well-being, are all available for young people to access and work through.

Lecturers and tutors have not been forgotten about either. A train the trainer course has been developed to help staff in becoming mental well-being coaches. The course includes coaching methods and materials to support students in their move to HE.

The mental health and well-being action originated from the Well Project, an Erasmus+ KA2 funded project. SRC led on the project and collaborated with three EU partners: Dundalk Institute of Technology; Decroly, a private Vocational Education and Training institution in Northern Spain and Kettle of Fish, a Northern Irish social enterprise organisation that makes documentary films addressing social and educational issues.

Libby Shackels, SRC Director of Curriculum was pleased to welcome students and staff to the event. Libby emphasised how the project will equip young people with the knowledge, tools, and resources to empower actions, and reduce stress levels and anxiety often faced when making that important move into independent adult life.

A demonstration of the toolkit was undertaken by Catriona Regan, Head of External Engagement at SRC. Catriona showcased how students and young people alike could access tips, hacks and practical advice featured within the toolkit.  Students were encouraged to make this toolkit their first stop when navigating new environments and building resilience.

The importance of looking after your mental was hammered home with videos featuring young individuals. These individuals spoke of their own experiences with mental health and solutions sought. Mental health experts featured in the videos, detailing at length the tools and techniques which can be used to improve mental health and well-being. The importance of sleep, daily comfort breaks and regular meals was highlighted.

Libby Shackels, Director of Curriculum at Southern Regional College commented “The event was a wonderful opportunity for the College to highlight The Well Project and importance of maintaining good mental health and well-being. We understand the transition to Higher Education can be daunting and we hope these resources will assist students as they undertake their next steps.

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