Mental Health First Aid Training Gave Me The Confidence To Talk To A Young Man With Suicidal Thoughts
Caretaker Maurice Pearson on how every staff member in school can make a difference to vulnerable young people.
The Young People’s Academy is for students with social, emotional and behavioural difficulties. It is a single-storey building with a hall in the middle, plus five classrooms, a PE area and a football pitch. The academy has put a lot of funding into the building, but it is old and needs plenty of maintenance.There are about 60 children on the roll, although they are not all there at the same time, so when I joined the school last October I was quite nervous when I started, because some of them can be quite volatile and I didn’t want to make things worse.But gradually I started chatting to the students, sitting and having a cup of tea with them. We’d talk about things like football, and slowly we got to know one another.
My job is to keep the building safe and to make it look better, so some would come and do litter picks with me, tidying up the grounds. And sometimes one of them would offer to help me with a job, and I’d say to them, “If your teacher says it’s OK, then you can”. But on the flip side, when one of them would graffiti the building or write swear words on it, it really annoyed me.And even though I was getting to know them as individuals, I still kept my distance when it came to talking about their behaviour, or why they did certain things like this.