Strengthening Minds—the focus of the Schools Wellbeing Programme, in association with Phoenix Natural Gas

Year 10 pupils at three local schools have been taking part in a four-week mental health & awareness programme piloted and delivered by leading mental health charity AWARE NI, in association with Phoenix Natural Gas. The Strengthening Minds Programme has been created with a focus on providing young people with knowledge and skills they can use to maintain good mental health and build resilience, so they are better equipped to deal with problems and challenges.

Over the four weeks of the bespoke programme, pupils from Downpatrick’s De La Salle, St Patrick’s Grammar, and Saintfield High School learnt how to challenge unhelpful thinking and behaviours and took part in mindfulness sessions to develop their emotional wellbeing, build focus, increase their ability to learn, and strengthen their physical health.

Ryan Cuddy at AWARE NI, who coordinated the unique programme, said; “Good mental health is an essential part of healthy development; it helps young people build positive social, emotional, thinking and communication skills and behaviours, and it lays the foundation for better mental health and wellbeing later in life.

“The Strengthening Minds series of interactive workshops is designed to explore issues and to facilitate discussion about mental & emotional wellbeing. The workshops include information on a wide range of topics, from challenging stigma around mental health to raising awareness of how young people can look after their mental health. These are skills that every young person should have an opportunity to learn, and we’re pleased to have the support of Phoenix Natural Gas in delivering this important programme.”

Gillian Orr, Head of Corporate Affairs at Phoenix Natural Gas said, “Phoenix Natural Gas has a strong corporate social responsibility programme and is proud to play a positive role in the community it serves. As we continue to extend our network across East Down, we are delighted to partner with AWARE NI on such an meaningful initiative and to provide additional mental health and wellbeing support to pupils in schools within the area.”

Speaking after the final session, Saintfield High School Principal, Miss Hynds said, “It was simply wonderful to welcome the team from AWARE to our school community.  At Saintfield High School, we fully appreciate the importance of pupils’ emotional well-being, especially for the current generation.  We seek to equip our pupils with skills and the ability to manage their emotional and mental well-being in a positive manner.  Each session, delivered by the AWARE team, confirmed and strengthened pupils’ ability to make well-thought-out decisions and provided them with coping mechanisms to be resilient, even when the challenges of life are all too apparent. We thank the AWARE team and Phoenix Gas for their support and willingness to provide this wonderful opportunity to our boys and girls.”

For more information on the Strengthening Minds Programme or the range of programmes and supports available from AWARE NI, visit:  For more information on Phoenix Natural Gas visit