The AGM took place on 19th Sept with Guest Speaker Dr. Harry Barry who gave a presentation based on his book ‘Flagging the Screenager – Guiding Your Child Through Adolescence & Young Adulthood’.

The meeting which attracted a capacity audience of parents and teachers  was chaired by Siobhan Robinson, Chairperson of the Parents Association. She asked  Olivia Dowling, Head Girl for 2016-2017, to  address the parents. She gave an eloquent summary of the role of the Student Council who have been working alongside the Peace & Justice Group to promote student mental health in the school.

Ms Emma Raughter, Principal, thanked the Parents Assocation for their dedication and valuable contribution to school life. The fundraising activities are vital for  improving school facilities. She strongly encouraged any parents who wished to get involved to sign up after the meeting.

Siobhan Robinson then outlined the role and purpose of the Association as part of the school community. She gave a brief summary of projects to date and highlighted the upcoming events for the next academic year, such as: Work Days and Fundraiser events, including an ‘Afternoon Tea’ and the annual Loreto Challenge.

She introduced Dr Harry Barry, a doctor based in County Louth, who specialises in the area of mental health, and in particular depression and anxiety. He is a regular contributor in national media on the subjects of mental health and suicide prevention. He is author of several books, including Flagging the Stress, Flagging the Screenager, Flagging Anxiety & Flagging Depression.

Dr Barry gave a fascinating yet sobering outline of the challenges facing parents and teenagers in this modern age. This included current research  backed up by his own experience. He explained how the developing adolescent differs from fully grown adults e.g. the dominance of the ‘emotional’ rather than the ‘rational’ brain. He discussed the possible consequences of issues such as obesity, cyberbullying, smoking, drugs and alcohol for adolescents and their families. There were powerful stories  illustrating the need for healthy boundaries around the use of technology and proper sleep patterns. He gave concise recommendations for dealing with self-harm and anxiety/panic. Parents were advised on positive strategies which promoted mental health for their children, including – listening, promoting resilience, having  meaning in their lives, exercise, nutrition and teaching problem- solving skills.

This was followed by a very lively question and answer session which illustrated the depth of concern among parents. At the same time, practical solutions and  ways of accessing support and resources made this a very worthwhile presentation. Dr. Barry recommended listeners to read his relevant published books for more in depth understanding and advice.

We wish to thank the Parents Association and the student Council for inviting Dr Barry to visit our school and organising this event.