A conference on mental health in education was recently organised under the auspices of Kenneth Vella, head of St Joseph ‒ Mater Boni Consilii School, Paola, and Malta’s Ambassador to Estonia and Finland, in collaboration with Minds Ahead and Leeds Beckett University.
The conference, which was held at the Catholic Institute, Floriana, was well attended by educators from various institutions, professionals and students working in the field of mental health.
Minds Ahead founder and CEO Dean Johnstone discussed the work carried out in schools in the UK in relation to mental health and well-being. He gave a detailed presentation on approaches schools may adopt in tackling mental health and well-being among children. He stressed the importance of providing a safe school environment for students to contribute to their mental well-being.
Johnstone and Claire Sewell, programme manager at Minds Ahead, later led workshops in which the participants discussed ways to adopt a holistic approach to support students’ mental health and well-being, and to use professional strengths to enhance mental health in local schools.
In an introductory speech, President Emeritus Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca emphasised the importance of mental health services, especially for children. She quoted local studies to showing that children need support from a young age to avoid mental health problems. She also described the work being carried out in Malta by NGOs that she leads.
She concluded her speech by stressing the need for a holistic approach to develop meaningful policies to help children in the best possible way.
Johnstone presented Coleiro Preca with a book on mental health that was recently published.
The conference was also attended by PN spokesperson on education Justin Schembri, Mental Health Commissioner Denis Vella Baldacchino, Archbishop’s Delegate for Catholic Schools Rev. Fr Charles Mallia, and Sr Riches Grech, the sister responsible for St Joseph Schools in Malta.
St Joseph ‒ Mater Boni Consilii School, Paola, signed a collaboration agreement with Minds Ahead UK last summer.