TY student from Kilkenny campaigns for mental health awareness

A student from Kilkenny College joined transition year students across Ireland to graduate as a Walk in My Shoes Mental Health Ambassador during a special online ceremony to celebrate the Class of 2021/2022.

Jenny Beirne-Bowden participated in the week-long program runs five times during the academic year between October and March, with 20 to 25 students per program.

For over 10 years, St Patrick’s Mental Health Services’ flagship education and awareness campaign, Walk in My Shoes, has run a Year of Transition program that invites over 100 students from across Ireland to participate each year.
Following the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic in March 2020, the program was adapted to an online format and delivered digitally with specially adapted interactive sessions designed to provide students with a rich and engaging experience.

During their internship, students gain first-hand insight into how a mental health service works and the experiences of people with mental health problems. You will meet mental health professionals and clinicians; hear from people who have been through mental health issues and their experiences of mental health recovery; and discuss the stigma of mental health and ways to address it.

Career
Given the significant recruitment challenges identified in recent years, particularly in the mental health field, the TY program also offers students the opportunity to learn about career paths in the mental health field and the various career opportunities in the field.

The program is hosted by the Adolescent Mental Health team and staff from St. Patrick’s Mental Health Services, who conduct approximately 20 sessions for students throughout the week.

This year, participants took part in a range of activities including attending a simulated multidisciplinary team meeting involving psychiatrists, psychologists, occupational therapists, nurses and social workers; Participate in meetings with pharmacists, the medical director and the CEO; and participation in a variety of group presentations. Throughout the week, students build their mental health awareness and leave the program empowered to serve as mental health ambassadors both in their schools and in local communities.

To celebrate their completion of the program, the students attended an online graduation ceremony hosted by Walk in My Shoes ambassador and ultramarathoner Conor O’Keeffe.

“The Transition Year program offers students a fantastic opportunity to learn what it is like to work in mental health care from the clinical staff here at St. Patrick’s Mental Health Services, while also giving them an insight into the experiences of people with mental health problems give,” said Amanda McArdle, Walk in My Shoes campaign manager.

To date, over 1,000 students have completed the Transition Year program. Visit walkinmyshoes.ie for more information.

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