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Exploring best practice education procedures for teachers and school staff working in the Mental Health sector
Start date: Jun 1, 2015, End date: May 31, 2017 PROJECT  FINISHED 

Linn Dara School is based in an inpatient mental health unit and day hospital for children and adolescents in Dublin, Ireland. Our students suffer from a range of mental health issues including eating disorders, psychosis, bipolar disorder, personality disorders, depression and suicidal ideation. Many have been absent from school and may not return to school following their hospitalisation. There is limited knowledge within the teaching community in Ireland in relation to the education of these students as schools such as ours are on the periphery of the education landscape in Ireland. The purpose of this project is to gain an insight into best practice education procedures for students experiencing mental health difficulties. There are three aspects to this project. The first is to attend select courses throughout Europe to obtain knowledge and skills which we would otherwise not obtain as courses like these are not available in Ireland. These courses will also provide a platform for our teachers to collaborate with European colleagues. The second aspect is working with our partner schools in Romania, Turkey, Sweden and Poland. We found our partners through and through other contacts we already had. We chose these specific partners because their schools are similar to ours and they cater for students with mental health difficulties. Our objectives when working with our partners are i) establish best practice education procedures for students in mental health schools, ii) identify and evaluate procedures partner schools employ in relation to transitioning students back to school or alternative placements, iii) improve communication and collaboration between members of multidisciplinary teams in our schools. To achieve these particular objectives we will spend 10 days in each of our partner schools. Through a process of job shadowing our colleagues, close observation and discussion, we believe these objectives will be achieved. To supplement this process, we will engage in structured reviews of each school after each visit where we will identify areas for development and plan for addressing these. We will ask our partners to make recommendations for improvement in our school also. The final aspect of our project will be to present our observations and findings at the HOPE Conference in Austria in 2016. This project will have a significant impact on the staff of Linn Dara School who will develop new teaching methodologies and practices. We will also acquire new knowledge and information through participation in the courses mentioned above. Through exposure to our partners transitioning procedures we will be able to enhance our own procedures. Effective educational procedures and policies developed from this project will enhance the students learning experience while they are in hospital. Positive experience of school and education during a hospital stay has the potential to change a students life. Supporting transition is another area where our students will benefit. A more definitive and structured approach, established based on this projects findings has the potential to prevent further hospital admissions for students if they feel empowered going back to school.
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