The Malta Independent 12 July 2024, Friday
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First aid for mental health course offered to all ninth-year students

Friday, 31 May 2024, 11:44 Last update: about 2 months ago

The Prime Minister’s wife Lydia Abela, working closely with the Richmond Foundation and the Mental Health Commissioner Dennis Vella Baldacchino, have developed a course which trains students in various skills, including identifying certain signs of mental health challenges.

In a statement on Friday, Abela said that the course on mental health first aid, under the ‘SPEAK’ initiative which aims to raise awareness about mental health, has started being offered to ninth-year students in all schools.

“Addressing the challenge of mental health within the community requires the community to be adequately informed and trained to assist people facing this challenge,” Abela said during a discussion with ninth-year students at Żejtun Secondary School within St. Thomas More College, after these students successfully completed a course on first aid for mental health.

The course is a result of donations from the 'Smiles with Miles' initiative led by Abela and funding from the Bank of Valletta.

In collaboration with the Richmond Foundation, the course helps students better understand the initial type of aid to provide in situations involving people with mental health challenges.

The 25-hour course is also offered to the educators of these students, emphasizing the need for sensitivity and empathy. So far, about 5,000 students and 330 educators have taken the course.

Abela said that this initiative is a tangible example of how mental health should no longer be a taboo subject but rather a topic of discussion to address in our lives.

"Our students and young people are the best example, demonstrating through their actions how we can cultivate important skills to support those facing mental health challenges," Abela said, highlighting that society should be one that gives every person a chance to get back on their feet and live better.

The Prime Minister's wife added that this initiative increases awareness and prevention, two important principles.

Present at the school were also Education Minister Clifton Grima, and Health Minister Jo Etienne Abela.

Grima said that the educational aspect is always an important tool to raise awareness, and through this course, our schools are demonstrating how the aspect of education is useful for life.

On his part, Minister Abela not only praised this initiative, but also emphasized that such initiatives show that mental health involves more than just care and medication.

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