Young people in difficulty – opening up conversations

Thursday October 10th 2019

Attendees at the mental health awareness evening in Holy Trinity, Woodburn, on October 5.

A mental health awareness evening for parents and leaders on the topic of self-harm and suicide among young people was hosted by Holy Trinity Parish, Woodburn, on October 5.

Although numbers were small, the rector, the Rev Dr Alan McCann, said it had been a ‘brilliant’ evening.  “Mark Kernohan from The Big House Ireland was a superb speaker and the two parts of the evening complimented each other so well,” Alan said.

Mark highlighted statistics around teenage mental health, self-harm and suicide, offering a basic theory in relation to each area and some myths and facts which Alan said helped debunk a lot of things that are generally taken for granted but are not true.  

This part of the evening laid the foundation for the second half, which was much more practical.

Mark Kernohan of the Big House Ireland addresses the meeting.

Mark outlined some very simple but essential steps that parents and leaders could take in this area.  The most important – begin an open conversation about it.  He led the participants through a series of helpful steps with practical illustrations along the way.

The final very informative section of the evening focused on helpful and unhelpful coping mechanisms. 

“This generated a lot of discussion in the groups and Mark then pointed out what was obvious – those present had just had a conversation about coping mechanisms and had drawn up in their own life what they believed to be good and bad responses to stress etc,” Alan said.

“This last session would be invaluable in any youth organisation to begin the conversation in this very vital area of ministry amongst our teenagers.”

He said further events are planned in 2020, and expressed thanks to Diocesan Youth Officer Christina Baillie, Big House Ireland and The Priorities Fund for the grant to enable the event to take place

Reflecting on the evening, Christina Baillie said: “It is such an encouragement to see leaders, parents and clergy take time to consider how best to support young people around the issues of self-harm and suicide.

“It is a powerful statement to our young people that the church cares for them in difficulty.”

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