Walk in My Shoes Transition Year Graduates as Advocates for Mental Health

by NewsFour

Eighteen Dublin students (including students from Muckross Park, Donnybrook, Sandford Park School, Ranelagh, and CUS, Leeson Street) joined 122 Transition Year students across Ireland to graduate as Walk in My Shoes mental health ambassadors during a special online ceremony held to celebrate the class of 2022/23.

For over 12 years, Walk in My Shoes, the flagship education and awareness-raising campaign of St Patrick’s Mental Health Services, has run a Transition Year Programme, with over 100 students from
across Ireland taking part annually. The week-long programme runs five times during the academic year between October and March, with 20 to 25 students per programme.

This year, the programme took place in a hybrid format, with students beginning their week with a day spent onsite at St Patrick’s University Hospital campus, and the remainder of the week’s sessions attended virtually. Students receive firsthand insight into how a mental healthcare service operates and the experiences of those with mental health difficulties. They meet mental health experts and clinicians; hear from people who have gone through mental health difficulties and their experiences of mental health recovery; and discuss mental health stigma and ways to tackle it.

The programme is hosted by the adolescent mental health team and staff at St Patrick’s Mental Health Services, who deliver approximately 20 sessions to students across the week. This year’s participants
undertook a range of activities which included viewing a mock multidisciplinary team meeting with psychiatrists, psychologists, occupational therapists, pharmacists, nurses and social workers; taking part in sessions with the medical director and the CEO; and participating in group presentations. Students were also given the opportunity to contribute to design concepts for a large-scale mental health promotion project that is being progressed by St Patrick’s at present.

The Dublin students that took part this year were:
• Isabelle Blum, Dominican College Muckross Park, Donnybrook
• Calvin Mooney, Sandford Park School, Ranelagh
• Ella Hall, Dominican College, Drumcondra
• Brendan Naughton, Coláiste Phádraig CBS, Lucan
• Frankie Gillespie, Dominican College, Drumcondra
• Darragh Coyne, St Colmcille’s Community School, Knocklyon
• Conor Cleary, Pobailscoil Isolde, Palmerstown
• Constantine Elworthy, Castleknock Community College, Castleknock
• Aidan Griffifin, Catholic University School, Leeson Street
• Cian Norman-Wright, Donabate Community College, Donabate, Co Dublin
• Anh Dien Spillane, Dominican College, Muckross Park
• Anna Ivanova, Edmund Rice College, Blanchardstown
• Carla O’Brien, Rosemont Secondary School, Sandyford
• Bein O’Caoimh, Coláiste Cois Life, Lucan
• Grace Feeney, St Joseph’s College, Lucan
• Ríona McElwain, Dominican College, Drumcondra
• Nathan Dunne, Beneavin De La Salle College, Finglas
• Shu Wei Zhong, Santa Sabina Dominican College, Howth

To celebrate their completion of the programme, students were joined in an online graduation ceremony by CEO of St Patrick’s Mental Health Services, Paul Gilligan, who said: “Congratulations to the 122 students who completed the Transition Year Programme this year and returned to their schools and communities as ambassadors for mental health. Transition Year can offer wonderful learning experiences for young people, but it can often also be a challenging time for students as they prepare to start into their final years at school and consider future career choices. Through our TY Programme we offer students the opportunity to get a real sense of what it’s like to work in mental healthcare, to learn about career pathways and the various opportunities for a career in this sector, while also building mental health awareness and skills. It is fantastic to see so many young people benefit from this programme by exploring a future career in mental healthcare and embracing mental health awareness.”

Well done to all the new Ambassadors for Mental Health, we say. To date, over 1,100 students have completed the Transition Year programme. The 2023/24 programme is now open for applications. For
more information visit walkinmyshoes.ie.