An internationally-acclaimed author and expert in teenage mental health has addressed a group of 50 Year 10 and 11 students at an event organised by Libraries NI and Belfast Harbour Commissioners.
Nicola Morgan, whose best-selling examination of the teenage brain, Blame My Brain, was shortlisted for the Aventis Prize, spoke to students from Glengormley High School and Our Lady and St Patrick’s College, Knock, on how stress impacts performance, the effects of social media and general wellbeing in a session designed to provide effective management strategies for the future.
She was joined by Debbie Hicks from The Reading Agency who spoke about Reading Well: The Shelf Help Collection. Libraries NI provides free access to the 35 book collection which has been chosen by young people and health experts to help support young people with difficult feelings and experiences that can affect their well-being.
Nicola Morgan said: “I’ve spent more than 20 years studying the subjects I now write and talk about and I am delighted to have the opportunity to come to Northern Ireland to share my understanding to hopefully guide the young people in the run up to their exams.
“The strategies I have covered, which included breathing exercises and daily relaxation periods, will be beneficial for the rest of their lives because these techniques are the same regardless of your age.”
Jenni Barkley, Communications and Corporate Responsibility Manager at Belfast Harbour Commissioners, added: “We were pleased to facilitate this session with Nicola and Libraries NI. As an organisation we take mental wellbeing within our workforce very seriously and we believe that by providing people with the tools to manage stressful situations early that they will be well prepared for balancing life in the future.
“Belfast Harbour runs a number of projects for young people through its corporate responsibility programme and we are pleased to extend that work into the area of mental wellbeing. The fact that reading has been proven to improve mental health enables us to encourage more young people to choose it as a form of relaxation.”
Mandy Bryson, Libraries NI Assistant Director said: “This event was a fantastic opportunity for the students to hear from a leading expert in the field of teenage mental health and we are sure that they will all have taken away positive lessons to cope with stressful periods.
“Many teens are turning to books within the Libraries NI Shelf Help Collection for support with anxiety, depression, eating disorders or other mental health conditions and difficult life experiences. Young people are cracking the spines of well-known novels such as The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time and The Perks of Being a Wallflower. Also proving popular are non-fiction titles including Mind your Head by Juno Dawson and The Reason I Jump: One Boy’s Voice from the Silence of Autism, by Naoki Higashida.
“Libraries NI is committed to promoting positive health and wellbeing for all through access to a range of free services, resources and events and the full Shelf Help Collection is available for everyone to access free of charge from your local library.”
For further information on the Shelf Help Collection and the wide range of events taking place, visit the Libraries NI website www.libraries ni.org.uk or call into your local branch.