The Resilience Academy is a six-week programme for second year students aimed at equipping students with emotional resilience tools.
Skills training programmes aim to increase protective factors such as coping skills, problem solving, decision making, and cognitive skills. While these programmes don’t directly target suicide, by targeting risk factors and giving youth important skills, the goal is to prevent the development of suicidal behaviour.
We aim to equip young people with the skills and knowledge to support themselves not just now but long into the future.
Enhancing protective factors,
Developing coping skills,
Increasing self efficacy,
Increase awareness of supports,
Encouraging help seeking behaviour,
The National Suicide Research Foundation (2017) have declared that the roll-out of evidence based mental health awareness programmes in Irish schools should be undertaken as a matter of priority in order to develop mental health literacy, promote positive mental health, and prevent suicide in adolescents.
The Resilience Academy, a resilience-focused school programme developed by Pieta, is one such programme. It was developed in response to a 163% increase in people under age of 18 presenting due to suicide or self-harm in the past five years (Pieta House, 2016).
The programme’s resilience-focused approach is in line with recent recommendations in relation to the development of school-based suicide prevention programmes (Surgenor, Quinn, & Hughes, 2016). In addition, the content was informed in-house psychotherapists, interviews with school staff, focus groups with students, and input from industry experts in areas such as body image, cyber bullying, occupational stress, LGBT+ issues.
The programme is limited to 30 students per class. It is facilitated by two facilitators, instead of school staff. This was decided as research suggests that students can be reluctant to accept and engage in teacher-driven interventions. Using external facilitators can help foster a more open environment that will enable discussion (Surgenor, et al, 2016).
In the initial session students are given a pre-intervention resilience questionnaire. The students are then guided through a variety of topics. Students initially learn coping techniques based on Cognitive Behaviour Therapy principles, for example; evaluating unhelpful thinking styles. After this session they are then asked to choose from a menu (which is confidential) of topics that have been developed in conjunction with school staff and students.
The topics at present are:
managing school stress
The students choose four of these. This choice enables students to pick topics that may be relevant to their current experiences in a confidential way. For example, a child who is being bullied may confidentially request the class on bullying. The top four selected by the class are then delivered for four weeks.
The resilience academy then concludes with a closing session. Students are prompted with a review of content and are encouraged to answer any questions they may have. Students are also signposted to helpful services for all topics covered. Post intervention questionnaires are then given to students.
The resilience academy includes a session for school staff which incorporates both signposting and wellbeing interventions for teachers also.
The underlying principle is that suicidal youth are under identified and by training school staff to recognise the warning signs, identification can be enhanced (Gould et al., 2003). In addition, it is well established that teachers are one of the professions which express the most work related stress (Buckley, Abbott, & Franey, 2017).
It is well established that teachers are one of the professions which express the most work related stress
As secondary school Teachers and associated staff spend a large amount of time with this age group the staff intervention forms a crucial part of the resilience academy.
This is a demand led service, meaning that schools are requesting our Resilience Academy. These schools are the experts in issues that affect students –they understand the importance of mental health education for this age group – however many are not in the position to facilitate this type of education in-house.
How are we funding the Resilience Academy?
The roll-out of the Resilience Academy is reliant on donations and contributions from voluntary sources. We are asking schools who are receiving the Resilience Academy to consider supporting us with a fundraiser or donation. This will allow us to sustain the Resilience Academy and reach more students.
Enroll your school
If you’d like your school to take part in the Resilience Academy programme or find out more from our training team please get in touch.