Teaching Kindness

Teaching Kindness

As students and teachers across the country prepare to return to classrooms ahead of the new school year, Irish international rugby players Ciara Griffin and James Lowe have teamed up with Rugby Players Ireland, Zurich and the Z Zurich Foundation to invite Post primary schools to take part in the the 2021/2022 Tackle Your Feelings Schools mental wellbeing programme as part of the #ImTakingControl campaign.  The programme is designed to instil a positive proactive approach to mental health and wellbeing among young people, reducing stigma and encouraging the development of positive wellbeing habits which they can bring throughout their school career and into adulthood.

The Tackle Your Feelings Schools Programme is a classroom based, teacher led, life skills development programme which enables students to build healthy habits and personal coping strategies as well as kindness and understanding when it comes to mental health and wellbeing. The content for the app-based programme, is developed using positive and sport psychology principles and is supported with comprehensive lesson plans for teachers, whilst students can easily access the content whilst in school or at home. The 2021/22 programme includes an 8-lesson schedule, covering awareness, emotions, wellbeing characteristics and self-care.

Recent research, commissioned by Zurich & Rugby Players Ireland and conducted by iReach with 1,000 parents across the island of Ireland in August 2021 revealed:

  • Less than half of parents (48%) believe their child/children understand the importance of mental wellbeing
  • One in three parents (32%) agree their child prioritises their physical health over their mental health and that schools prioritise physical health over mental health (39%)
  • Almost half of parents (47%) agree their children’s interpersonal skills have suffered as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic
  • One in three parents (33%) say home-schooling had a negative impact on their child’s mental wellbeing
  • Almost half of parents (47%) reported their child’s mental health has improved once they returned to school after the first lockdown
  • Just one in three parents (35%) believe that their child’s school has put more emphasis on mental wellbeing since the beginning of Covid-19
  • 41% of parents think that their children would be more open to discussing mental health with their friends if they have downloaded the Tackle Your Feelings App and completed the TYF School programme
  • Over half of parents (57%) agree that seeing role models like rugby players take control of their mental health inspires their children to do the same.

Commenting on the launch of the new 2021/2022 Tackle Your Feelings Schools programme, Ireland Captain and Munster Rugby Player & campaign ambassador Ciara Griffin said: “As a teacher I am particularly proud to be an ambassador for this year’s Tackle Your Feelings Schools programme. From my own experience, I can see how students will benefit from a mental wellbeing programme like this. Even though I teach primary school I can see the benefit of a programme like this across the board. We need to equip students with the tools not only to demonstrate the importance in maintaining their mental wellbeing, but to help them to develop positive techniques to handle the challenges they face during the school year, and to build effective habits as they grow into adults.”

Ireland and Leinster Rugby Player & campaign ambassador James Lowe said: “I’m delighted to support this year’s Tackle Your Feelings Schools programme. As someone who had to sometimes miss school during my teenage years due to being diagnosed with a rare form of Arthritis, I found myself feeling low for long periods of time as I was missing my friends and sport. Having something like the Tackle Your Feelings Schools programme would have really helped me to cope, so I believe it will be extremely useful in supporting students across Ireland as they return to school this year.”  

Anthony Brennan, CEO, Zurich Ireland said: “We at Zurich are delighted to support this year’s schools programme for Tackle Your Feelings with Rugby Players Ireland. Ciara and James both understand the role this programme can play and have used their voices to inspire young people and destigmatise discussing our mental health in the classroom setting, and in wider society. The research shows over two thirds of parents think it’s important for students to have these role models, so we are confident the Tackle Your Feelings Schools programme and App will be an invaluable resource to all teachers and students and will encourage them to incorporate positive mental wellbeing habits into their daily routine.”

Tackle Your Feelings, Campaign Manager, RPI, Hannah McCormack, said: “As schools reopen following their summer break, we’re excited to launch this year’s Tackle Your Feelings schools programme and App as part of the #ImTakingControl campaign, supported by Zurich and the Z Zurich Foundation. This programme aims to continue to break down stigma and encourage students to become more proactive about looking after their mental wellbeing. A huge focus of the TYF Schools programme is learning to recognise and respect mental health changes and difference in ourselves and in others, it’s about being sound when it comes to these changes, showing compassion and empathy to ourselves and to those around us.  Our research shows that well over half (59%) of parents speak with their children about their mental wellbeing which is very encouraging. Almost half or parents (47%) have seen an improvement in their child’s wellbeing when they returned to in-person schooling, which highlights the vital role school plays in children’s wellbeing. We think the programme will support schools as they focus on providing their students with resources to manage their mental wellbeing, and we’re looking forward to working with schools to provide tools to help.”

Tackle Your Feelings is an innovative and unique approach to breaking down stigma around emotional wellbeing. Built on a foundation of diversity and inclusion, the campaign encompasses the whole island of Ireland and features some of Ireland’s most loved rugby players leading from the front, opening up about their own mental wellbeing challenges and the strategies they used to overcome them, so that people of Ireland can follow their lead. Recently, a partnership has formed with Wexford GAA, where their young players will receive bespoke Tackle Your Feelings workshops as part of the next generation programme. TYF Schools information packs have been sent to Post primary schools across the island of Ireland, giving them the chance to sign up for the programme for 2021/2022.

Since its launch in 2016, Tackle Your Feelings has impacted the lives of people all over the world, with campaign content being viewed in excess of 23 million times. TYF has motivated people to be more proactive when it comes to looking after their mental wellbeing and has increased awareness around the importance of taking care of your mental health. TYF has also reached international audiences and has inspired similar campaigns across the globe, including; The English Rugby Players’ Association (RPA), ‘Lift the Weight’ campaign, New Zealand Rugby’s ‘HeadFirst’ campaign and Tackle Your Feelings Australia, a collaboration between Zurich Australia, the AFLPA and AFLCA.

For more information on Tackle Your Feelings follow the Instagram account @tyf or visit the website which will share videos, updates on events and competitions.

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