One teacher’s way of trying to prevent school shootings. (It involves looking at how young people are connecting with others and lots of empathy)

Following the latest school shooting in America there has been lots of questions about how authorities can pick up warning signs and stop such atrocities from happening. It turns out in this case and many of the others there were many warning signs but it just wasn’t enough.

I saw a story shared on Facebook today and I really loved it. The story I read told the story of a teacher and how they changed the way they teach following the Columbine school shooting. The writer Glennon Doyle Melton was speaking to the teacher who teaches her son and is recounting their conversation in the article.

Below is a direct quote from the article.

“Every Friday afternoon, she asks her students to take out a piece of paper and write down the names of four children with whom they’d like to sit the following week. The children know that these requests may or may not be honored. She also asks the students to nominate one student who they believe has been an exceptional classroom citizen that week. All ballots are privately submitted to her.

And every single Friday afternoon, after the students go home, she takes out those slips of paper, places them in front of her, and studies them. 
She looks for patterns.

Who is not getting requested by anyone else?

Who can’t think of anyone to 

Who never gets noticed enough to be nominated?

Who had a million friends last week and none this week?

You see, Chase’s teacher is not looking for a new seating chart or “exceptional citizens.” Chase’s teacher is looking for lonely children. She’s looking for children who are struggling to connect with other children. She’s identifying the little ones who are falling through the cracks of the class’s social life. She is discovering whose gifts are going unnoticed by their peers. And she’s pinning down—right away—who’s being bullied and who is doing the bullying.” – Glennon Doyle Melton

The teacher is not looking to rearrange her classroom and choose a new seating plan for the children. She’s not looking for the most popular children or those that the other children admire. She is in fact looking for lonely children. Continue reading “One teacher’s way of trying to prevent school shootings. (It involves looking at how young people are connecting with others and lots of empathy)”


What defines you?

quote: What defines us is how well we rise after falling

By Anon

About seven months ago I was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder. Although this came as a shock, I had known that something had not been right for a while. I had suffered from deep dark depressions  for years which were followed by periods where I was unable to sleep for days. Although the diagnosis was scary, it did come as some sort of relief. Finally I had a name for what was wrong with me.

But I doubted the diagnosis, how could I, a normal 26-year-old who experienced a few highs and lows be diagnosed with something ‘crazy’ people had. I thought of all the celebrities  who had been diagnosed with Bipolar disorder, Britney Spears and Kerry Katona were two names that came to mind. But how could my Doctor compare me with two celebrities who had clearly gone off the rails?

Since then I’ve been unable to come to terms with the diagnosis. Until yesterday I hadn’t spoken to anyone about it, mainly because the diagnosis scared me, but also because I didn’t want anyone to think differently of me.

But yesterday I was in a conversation with someone when for some reason I dropped my bombshell. We were talking about life and the obstacles that it throws at us, and suddenly before I knew it I mentioned that I had been diagnosed with Bipolar disorder. I couldn’t believe that I had divulged such a private detail about myself. Especially something that I was so ashamed about.

But I guess it happened for a reason.

As it turns out my ‘secret’ wasn’t such a bombshell after all. In fact the person I was with was completely understanding, and had experienced their own highs and lows.

I guess the moral of the story is that I was so busy keeping my secret that it was in fact eating me up. Sure, I don’t have to tell everyone that I have Bipolar disorder- as it’s none of their business. But that doesn’t mean that I have to let it burn a hole inside of me either.

I’ve realised that it doesn’t matter if I have ups or downs, that is not what  defines me. What matters is that I pick myself up after each fall.

That in itself is liberating.

The Dalai Lama, Mary Robinson and Me!

So last week I had the privilege to speak at the amazing Possibilities Conference organised by Afri, and Children in Crossfire.

It’s not every day that you get the chance to even be in the same room as the Dalai Lama, Mary Robinson and Richard Moore.

So imagine my delight when I was asked to speak alongside such a panel of inspirational people.

Little oul me from the hills of Donegal!

The day kicked off with wonderful music by Susan Quirke, Majella Murphy and the amazing Kila. The atmosphere in the room was electric with 2,000 people sitting on the edge of their seats waiting for the main man himself His holiness the Dalai Lama.

Silence filled the room as both Richard Moore and the Dalai Lama made their entrance to the room. The relationship between the two was touching to watch with the Dalai Lama clutching onto Richard Moore’s hand never once letting it go.

For those of you who don’t know, Derry man Richard Moore was blinded as a 10-year old child by a plastic bullet shot by a British Soldier. He later met the soldier and forgave him by showing no bitterness or anger towards him. It was because of these actions that the Dalai Lama calls Richard Moore ‘My hero’ for his demonstration of compassion and forgiveness. Continue reading “The Dalai Lama, Mary Robinson and Me!”

You can change minds about mental health in Ireland

See Change is  working to change minds about mental health problems in Ireland. They are currently running a campaign called  Make a Ripple; a campaign to build an online community of ambassadors, advocates, story tellers and volunteers who can help reduce the stigma associated with mental health problems.

The idea is simple – they want people to speak out against stigma by leaving a comment on the Make a Ripple site (coming soon), on their facebook page or through twitter. International evidence says that telling stories and sharing experiences can be one of the most effective ways to change attitudes, tackle stigma and challenge discrimination.

So what can you do?

After the launch, See Change will be inviting everyone to visit the site and make a ripple. Before that though, they want to gather 100 contributions so that the site has lots of stories and pledges when we open it up to the public. They’re asking for your help by signing up as one of their first 100 ambassadors. Its only 100 words or less, and it can be about your own experience of mental health problems and your journey to recovery, a message about how someone else’s experience affected you, or a plea for others to start talking openly and honestly about mental health problems.

The aim is to create a ripple effect that will allow See Change to reach more and more people with the message that we need to be open, honest and accepting about our own and others mental health.

If you’d like to become an ambassador, just drop  an email at or call a member of the See Change team on (01) 860 1620.




By Robert

There’s a prison called Anxiety

a place within grey walls

it’s treason walled – piracy —

I think to me it called —

caressed by its deity

on my own inside wall —

naked alone

humility and all

Continue reading “Anxiety”

Giving the youth mental health stage back to the young people

This is taken from the Tough Times launch a couple of years ago now- but it still grabs my attention every time I watch these guys perform. The lyrics are extremely powerful, and it’s a pity more young people didn’t get a platform to express themselves on youth mental health instead of the suits who talk the same oul shite over and over again.

I’ve been to loads of youth mental health conferences and different events over the years, but I’ll never forget how great these young guys from Ballymun were at highlighting the issue of youth suicide.