Bangor Academy and Sixth Form College

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Bangor Academy Rises to the Challenge

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Man Down 2018‘Man Down’ –  dial down destructive attitudes to mental health.

Bangor Academy’s pioneering peer to peer mental health support scheme, Man Down, was launched on 24th October. The evening of entertainment, music, magic and powerful speakers promoted a positive message about tackling and talking about mental health, especially in relation to males. We were privileged to hear from several speakers who revealed how mental health has to be taken as seriously as physical health. 

Supported by our School Nurse/Counsellor, Kerry Tinman,  the proactive Sixth Formers who organised the event were delighted to receive such enthusiastic support from the local community.  Snow Patrol’s Gary Lightbody sent a special video interview (in addition to generous donations). Local professional football legends Paul Millar, David Healy and Jamie Mulgrew spoke movingly and honestly about their real life experiences within and beyond professional football. Alex Bunting (Director of Addiction NI) brought added context with hard hitting facts, figures and an interview with recovered addict, Michael Bailey. 

No-one will forget our Deputy Head Girl, Atlanta Matthew’s emotive address which followed local author, Lesley Allen’s reading from her novel, ‘The Lonely Life of Biddy Weir’. Our hospitality students , mentored by Chef Jeffers, ensured everyone was fed and watered. Musical interludes were enjoyed from sultan of swing, Harry McGarrity; the Bard of Ballysallagh, David Lennon and our own talented school band. Last but not least the whole evening was ably and entertainingly compered by showman and magician, Joel Mawhinney, whose sleight of hand, banter and ‘mentalism’ elicited regular gasps from the captivated audience.

The Man Down team would like to thank everyone who came, donated their money, time, talent or testimony. It was a fabulous evening which will have a lasting impact; not only upon those lucky to experience it, but also for the future of the Man Down initiative. All the funds raised will kick start the ultimate aim – to leave a legacy of renewed training for our Sixth Formers in the future. Peer to peer support is effective. We want it to continue in our school, but we also think it can serve as a model for other schools and youth organisations. Our Shared Education partner, St. Columbanus’ certainly think so; they have signed up for our June 2019 training.

You can hear what BBC Good Morning Ulster thought of the event or check out the slide show below. 

BBC Radio Ulster, Thursday 25th October 2018

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