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)”


The Quarter-Life Crisis- It Really Exists!

Below is my article which appeared in yesterday’s Irish Times Health Supplement.

Take some time to have a read and let me know what you think.


MIND MOVES: ONCE UPON a time there was the mid-life crisis. But in today’s fast-paced world, where things happen more quickly than before, we have the quarter-life crisis.

I remember laughing when I first heard the phrase. I thought it was simply another term made up by a group of spoilt young people who believed that mummy and daddy should hand everything to them on a plate. The all-about-me generation.

But then I hit the age of 26 and suddenly it all made sense. People always talk about the difficulty of the teenage years. But no one ever tells you what a pain in the ass your 20s are. It was tough being a teenager, but in my experience it’s even harder trying to navigate life as someone in their mid-20s.

So you’re probably wondering what this quarter-life crisis is about. It’s essentially a period of anxiety, uncertainty and inner turmoil that often accompanies the transition to adulthood. Continue reading “The Quarter-Life Crisis- It Really Exists!”

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.


The Road Not Taken

I’m at that stage of life that everyone  hits with a big bang at some stage. Once upon a time there was the mid-life crisis, but in today’s fast paced world where things happen quicker than before, we have the quarter life crisis.

And I think I’m in the middle of  it…

A quarter life crisis you say. Yes, you heard me. A quarter life crisis.

I have all these questions which keep running through my head, knocking at my brain and stirring everything up. ‘Who am I’, ‘Where am I going with my life?’, ‘where do I want to go with my life?’.

I’ve had these thoughts running through my head for ages now, but since I turned 26 they have reached a whole new level. I’m no longer in my early twenties. I’ve passed that threshold, and now I really feel like I should know where I’m going with my life. Continue reading “The Road Not Taken”