According to the latest ‘My World Report’ by UCD School of Psychology and Jigsaw, in Ireland, 6th years displayed the lowest levels of optimism and needed professional help. However, 22% of them didn’t actually go on to seek any help. These statistics serve as a poignant reminder of the critical need for additional support when it comes to the wellbeing and mental health of young people.

mdeducational foundation is a charity prioritising student wellbeing. Our vision is a world in which every student has access to the wellbeing support that they need, without delay.

We provide a three-year salary-funded commitment to placing dedicated wellbeing professionals within post-16 educational settings. By funding the placement of Wellbeing Leads, we’re putting student wellbeing at the forefront of education – providing much-needed support for their wellbeing needs through education and beyond.

mdeducational foundation has piloted and established an impactful wellbeing initiative in schools across the UK, so the time has come to take another leap forward by expanding our reach and support even further – across Ireland.

Stepping up to improve student wellbeing and mental health in Ireland

After successfully piloting our wellbeing initiative in the UK, mdeducational foundation proudly launched in the Republic of Ireland, funding Ireland’s first Wellbeing Lead placement at Mount St Michael Secondary School in County Mayo.

Mount St Michael Secondary School has a real place in our heart, as our Co-Founder, Miriam Dervan, is a former student there. In Miriam’s words:

“Being Irish myself, launching mdeducational foundation in Ireland was incredibly important to me. Of course, I wanted to begin with my alma mater. Because of what I personally went through in school, it’s crucial to me that young people today don’t have to feel the way that I felt at their age. Our goal is to reach many schools as we can, to be able to serve as many young people as possible.”

With the funding from our charity, Mount St Michael Secondary School is the first Irish school to be able to kickstart their long-term wellbeing strategy and take pioneering steps to improve the wellbeing of their students. Their dedicated Wellbeing Lead will be part of creating a better future for their young people, enabling them to be more empowered, no matter what their challenges are.

Watch our video that shares the impactful story behind the expansion of our wellbeing support initiative to the education sector in the Republic of Ireland:

To celebrate our evolution into the Republic of Ireland as well as our first funding to an Irish school, we hosted a special launch event at Mount St Michael Secondary School in Claremorris.

Our pioneering collaboration with Mount St Michael Secondary School

27th October 2023 marked an important milestone in our journey towards a world in which every student has access to the wellbeing support that they need, without delay. We funded Ireland’s first placement of a dedicated Wellbeing Lead to prioritise student wellbeing at Mount St Michael Secondary School.

Our launch event was a beautiful synthesis of everyone coming together to create a brighter future for our young people. We had over 200 Mount St Michael Secondary School senior cycle students, along with another 200 industry experts and guests in attendance.

mdeducational foundation Ireland launch event

mdeducational foundation Ireland launch event at Mount St Michael Secondary School

Our event, held at the school itself, was opened by Mount St Michael Secondary School Principal, Ciarán Ryan, who shared his story of how the collaboration between mdeducational foundation and the school began and how it initially seemed “too good to be true”:

“The journey of this great initiative between Mount St Michael and the mdeducational foundation kicked off nearly a year ago and with the development of a strong collaborative working relationship between mdeducational foundation and Mount St Michael, here we are today, ready to launch our Wellbeing Hub and moreover launch the introduction of this fantastic initiative in the Republic of Ireland, with Mount St Michael being the pilot school.”

Principal of Mount St Michael Secondary School, Ciarán Ryan

Principal of Mount St Michael Secondary School, Ciarán Ryan

During the event, we heard from Minister Dara Calleary – the Minister of State for Trade Promotion, Digital and Company Regulation. He encouraged us all to support each other, no matter what. When addressing the students, he also mentioned:

Minister Dara Calleary - the Minister of State for Trade Promotion, Digital and Company Regulation as a keynote speaker at mdeducational foundation Ireland launch event

Minister Dara Calleary

“While mental health is something that we haven’t dealt with very well in Ireland over the years, you’re really privileged to have the army of support and the army of love that will come with this programme.

The skills and the strength you are going to pick up through participation in this programme are going to be ones that you will take with you when you leave this school, and have for the rest of your life.”

We also had the pleasure of having another keynote speaker, Aishah Akoredethe Founder of Recrowned Ireland & Miss Universe Ireland 2023, empowering us to create positive change.

In her speech, Aishah explained that often in life, we need to ‘break down’ before we can make our ‘breakthrough’. She described how we shouldn’t let our insecurities and fears hold us back from showing our full potential. The senior cycle students were asked to write down their insecurities and things that were holding them back, then put their written thoughts inside their balloons and blow them full of air. Then, as a symbol of letting their insecurities go and having their ‘breakthroughs’, the students popped the balloons together at the end of the presentation!

Aishah Akorede - the Founder of Recrowned Ireland & Miss Universe Ireland 2023, as a keynote speaker at mdeducational foundation's Ireland launch event

Aishah Akorede

Mount St Michael Secondary School student participating in Aishah Akorede's keynote activity at mdeducational foundation's Ireland launch event

Mount St Michael Secondary School student participating in Aishah Akorede's keynote activity at mdeducational foundation's Ireland launch event

As part of our event, we were pleased to host a Wellbeing Couch Session, where we had industry experts telling their stories and inspiring us with new plans to improve the wellbeing of young people. Our Wellbeing Couch Session participants were:

The participants shared the plans and steps they are taking to improve student wellbeing, such as hosting insightful wellbeing workshops and providing young people with the resources to thrive.

Wellbeing Couch Session participants at mdeducational foundation Ireland launch event: Séamus Ruane – Founder of iThrive Academy, Certified Positive Psychology Practitioner & Community Pharmacist Conor Nolan - Software Engineer, Author & Public Speaker Grace McGee - the school's newly appointed Wellbeing Lead

Wellbeing Couch Session at mdeducational foundation Ireland launch event

We also had the pleasure of hearing from the Mental Health Champion for Northern Ireland, Professor Siobhan O’Neill. As a Mental Health Champion, her mission is to improve the mental health of people across Northern Ireland by bringing discussions and evidence-based support to the surface and by engaging with people who have lived experiences or those whose lives have been touched. She shared a video with us on this exciting day:

Our charity’s inspiring Co-Founders, Miriam Dervan & Tarquin Scadding-Hunt and our empowering CEO Leah Iles, shared the reasons behind why we’re stepping up to prioritise student wellbeing, why early intervention is so crucially needed, and what the future holds for mdeducational foundation.

mdeducational foundation Co-Founders, Miriam Dervan & Tarquin Scadding-Hunt and CEO Leah Iles at the charity's Ireland launch event

mdeducational foundation Co-Founders, Miriam Dervan & Tarquin Scadding-Hunt and CEO Leah Iles at the charity's Ireland launch event

Miriam gave an empowering speech to the senior cycle students, sharing her story of how she struggled with her own mental health and wellbeing at their age. Through talking about her journey to date and answering questions from the students, she inspired everyone by reminding them that we are all unstoppable – not just today, but every day. Watch the video below to hear the impactful story of Miriam Dervan:

Prior to the launch event, mdeducational foundation was honoured to receive a letter from Sabina Higgins, Wife of the President of Ireland and Mount St Michael Secondary School Alumni. At the end of our main event, our CEO Leah Iles, shared the lovely words from her letter:

“I want to extend my heartfelt congratulations and well wishes to all involved in this wonderful organisation. […] The work that mdeducational foundation do, providing much needed wellbeing support in schools, speaks volumes about the organisation’s commitment to the health of young people. By focusing on the mental health of young minds through the placement of Wellbeing Leads, your support to those in need is making a profound difference in the lives of countless young people.”

To end our launch event on a high, we had the grand opening of Mount St Michael Secondary School’s brand-new Wellbeing Hub, where the ribbon was proudly cut by Órlaith Heaney, Senior Cycle Student at Mount St Michael Secondary School, and Deirdre Doherty, Director of Schools & Partnerships at mdeducational foundation.

Órlaith Heaney had written a beautiful speech for the grand opening, talking on behalf of the Student Body at Mount St Michael Secondary School:

“We must create an environment where everyone feels respected and valued, no matter where they come from or who they are. When we feel like we belong, it’s much easier to focus on our studies and find our place in this world”.

The Wellbeing Hub was named ‘Ber’s Warmth’, in memory of our Co-Founder, Miriam Dervan’s beloved mother, Ber Dervan. To honour Ber’s caring and homely memory and to celebrate the opening of the Wellbeing Hub, Deirdre Doherty read the wonderful poem commissioned for the occasion by Ann Marie Concagh, Deputy Head at Mount St Michael Secondary School, ‘Ber’s Warmth’.

This Wellbeing Hub is a safe and welcoming place for senior cycle students to go to meet with the Wellbeing Lead, participate in workshops or just enjoy a cuppa with friends.

Grace McGee, the school’s Wellbeing Lead, shared her thoughts on her new position and the meaning of this Wellbeing Hub:

“The Wellbeing Hub is a space for the students to have their voices heard and find access to support. Young people can sometimes experience challenges, and on occasion, some may feel lonely. A non-judgmental space and open conversation allows students to ‘just be’. They can receive tips and strategies to help them better navigate their wellbeing journey – my door is always open at the Wellbeing Hub.”

mdeducational foundation launching in Ireland

Órlaith Heaney, Senior Cycle Student at Mount St Michael Secondary School, and Deirdre Doherty, Director of Schools & Partnerships at mdeducational foundation at the grand opening of the school's new Wellbeing Hub, 'Ber's Warmth'

A massive thank you to World Wide Group and their brilliant team for providing us with professional production, event management and planning services for this beautiful event. Also to our compere Louise Stevenson, the CEO of Speakeasy Coaching, Comedian and Author, for the smooth hosting of the event.

Watch the video below to see a recap of our incredible launch event at Mount St Michael Secondary School in Claremorris:

Reflecting on our impact: What’s next for mdeducational foundation?

It’s been almost 6 months since we launched in Ireland and had our wonderful event at Mount St Michael Secondary School. Since then, we’ve had some amazing opportunities come our way that have helped us to grow our impact when it comes to improving the wellbeing of young people across the UK and Ireland.

Our launch event got the attention of many news outlets and we were featured in Connaught Telegraph, The Irish Independent and Western People articles – as well as on RTÉ TV news. On top of this, Mount St Michael Secondary School Principal Ciarán Ryan and the newly appointed Wellbeing Lead, Grace McGee, were invited to part in a radio interview with a local radio station – Claremorris Community Radio. You can hear the full interview by clicking the link below. Ciarán and Grace talk about the impact of the initiative along with the exciting plans they have in place for their senior cycle students’ wellbeing:

Principal Ciarán Ryan was also invited to share his thoughts on being the first Irish school to receive funding from mdeducational foundation in the NAPD newsletter:

“We consider ourselves to be one of the most progressive schools in the West of Ireland, and this collaboration puts us on the map for pioneering such an approach to wellbeing provision. We are now responsible for making sure the funding is well spent, that it works for our young people and that it supports our existing pastoral care system.

As part of this collaboration, we have repurposed an old classroom into a Wellbeing Hub, which provides a safe, welcoming space for our senior students. The Wellbeing Lead uses this space to develop a range of different activities to enrich the wellbeing of our students.”

You can read the full article here or if you are a member of NAPD, by heading to their online newsletter.

mdeducational foundation and Mount St Michael Secondary School feature on NAPD newsletter

We are pleased to see Grace McGee comfortably and confidently taking on her role as the dedicated Wellbeing Lead at Mount St Michael Secondary School. She has made the Wellbeing Hub her base at the school and welcomes senior cycle students with open arms for various wellbeing enrichment activities and sessions.

We were also delighted to see Séamus Ruane, Founder of iThrive Academy, who ran our Wellbeing Couch Sessions, return to the school to facilitate ‘The Wellbeing Project’ workshops for the Transition Year students. These workshops were focused on how to boost students’ overall wellbeing and happiness, reduce stress, and examine the skills required to thrive in school and beyond.

When it comes to the future of mdeducational foundation, we’re taking the next needed steps as a charity. We understand the pressures young people face and the impact this can have on their lives, and we also know more can be done on a national level to support them.

We will keep stepping up and increasing our reach. With thousands of students already being supported, we will continue our mission to make all senior cycle and post-16 students feel supported in every aspect of their wellbeing, helping them on their journey to a brighter future.

Going forward mdeducational foundation is proud to continue collaborating with additional schools and educational settings across the UK and Ireland. We’re excited to see what the future brings.

Join our journey and support our charity by learning about the mission and help us spread our message:

Prioritising student wellbeing through education and beyond

mdeducational foundation is a charity that provides a three-year salary-funded commitment to placing dedicated wellbeing professionals within educational settings, enabling them to kickstart their long-term wellbeing strategies.

Learn more about our mission

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